Wolf advocates outraged over plan to kill E. Wash. wolf pack

Gray wolf (File photo)

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Some wolf advocates are outraged that the state is preparing for the second time to exterminate an entire wolf pack for preying on livestock in northeastern Washington state.

This is the second time in four years that a pack of endangered wolves has received the death penalty because of the grazing of privately owned cattle on publicly owned lands, the Center for Biological Diversity said.

Washington is home to about 90 wolves, and killing the 11 members of the Profanity Peak pack would amount to 12 percent of the population.

“By no stretch of the imagination can killing 12 percent of the state’s tiny population of 90 wolves be consistent with recovery,” said Amaroq Weiss, of the Center for Biological Diversity, on Thursday.

“We can’t keep placing wolves in harm’s way by repeatedly dumping livestock onto public lands with indefensible terrain, then killing the wolves when conflicts arise,” she said.

Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it would exterminate the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County. Since mid-July, the agency has confirmed that wolves have killed or injured six cattle and probably five others, based on staff investigations.

Jim Unsworth, director of the agency, authorized the wolf hunts between the towns of Republic and Kettle Falls.

Wildlife officials shot two pack members Aug. 5, but temporarily ended wolf-removal efforts after two weeks passed without finding any more evidence of wolf predation on cattle.

“At that time, we said we would restart this operation if there was another wolf attack, and now we have three,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy lead. “The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves.”

Since 2008, the state’s wolf population has grown from two wolves in one pack to at least 90 wolves and 19 packs.

Wolves were hunted to extinction in Washington at the beginning of the last century. Since the early 2000s, they’ve moved back into the state from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia.

That has set off alarm bells from people in rural areas, especially in northeastern Washington where the animals are concentrated.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has walked a fine line between environmental groups, who support wolf recovery, and ranchers who want to protect their herds. The issue has become a dividing line between urban and rural residents.

In 2012, hunters hired by the state killed members of the Wedge pack of wolves, in the same general area, for killing livestock.

Conservation groups say the livestock is the problem, not wolves.

“Cows grazing in thick forest and downed trees in the Colville National Forest are in an indefensible situation,” said Tim Coleman, executive director for Kettle Range Conservation Group. “We believe the wildest areas of our national forests should be a place where wolves can roam free.”

Under Washington’s wolf plan, livestock owners are eligible for taxpayer-funded compensation for losses. Taxpayers have also funded the radio collars placed on wolves.

Those collars are now being used to locate and kill the wolves. This practice is referred to as the use of “Judas wolves,” because the collared wolves unknowingly betray the location of their family members, Weiss said.

Some conservation groups do not oppose the hunt. Wolf Haven International, the Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, and Conservation Northwest said they are focused on long-term goals.

“We remain steadfast that our important goals remain the long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves in our state alongside thriving rural communities,” the groups said in a press release. “We believe that ultimately we can create conditions where everyone’s values are respected and the needs of wildlife, wildlife advocates, and rural communities are met.”

11 thoughts on “Wolf advocates outraged over plan to kill E. Wash. wolf pack

  1. Is it me, or does only six cattle seem like not enough of a problem to wipe out an entire wolf pack, especially one where a or the breeding female has already been shot? They’ve shot two wolves already for this one rancher. We really know how to eff up the environment and the recovery of wolves. I think he or maybe his predecessor refused government payments for their losses. Obviously, nothing will do except extermination, and I wish the F&W would not cater to them.

  2. How many are lost for other reasons? A lot more than six I would guess. Where’s the proof? It isn’t coexisting when a rancher will not accept anything but extermination. It’s the same guy every time!!!!! Wolves shouldn’t be blamed for a rancher’s losses if they are not responsible.

  3. Here is one of several articles where one of the ranch owners says they won’t take compensation for their losses. Whether that has changed or not I don’t know?

    This was for the Wedge Pack controversy, the second if not the third time the WDFW has taken out a wolf pack for this ranch. Same thing, deja vu all over again with the Profanity Peak pack:

    “We’ve done everything the department has suggested except for a range riding program and we have five riders of our own who do it very well. We refused compensation for our killed stock because it would look like it was all right if the wolves ate our cattle as long as we got compensated. It’s not all right.”

    Why isn’t it all right? Doesn’t sound very cooperative to me, but stubborn. Obviously, the only solution for these stubborn types is no wolves.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/bill-mcirvin-defends-his-ranch-at-wolf-meeting/

  4. “Then the commission opened the mike for public comments and 40 people voiced their opinions on the plan, the decision to kill the pack and where things should go from here. Most who spoke said they hoped that how the Wedge Pack situation was handled would help prevent something similar happening in the future, that lethal control of an entire pack would not be necessary again. ”

    I’m sure you all have seen this comment in several articles at the time of the Wedge Pack killing – “they hoped that how the Wedge Pack situation was handled would help prevent something similar happening in the future, that lethal control of an entire pack would not be necessary again”. This was back in 2012!

    Well it is happening again, and at least one other time as well in addition to the Wedge Pack. I feel that some WA ranchers are crying wolf too often and are being disingenuous.

  5. Yet another example of our animal-eating lifestyle.The government killing wild animals to protect cattle ranchers’ incomes- when do you think people will make the connection? The HSUS again shows its cowardice by backing down- they continually display their middle -of- the- road animal advocacy lest they endanger donations from their middle-of-the-road membership base.

    • Yes. That’s a big part of it.

      Back in 2014, it was the Huckleberry Pack, and the breeding female was again taken out ‘by accident’, by WA state helicopter gunners. I’m, not sure if any others of the pack were killed. It wasn’t McIrvin this time, but the Dashiells. But it should be noted that all of these people are involved or are heads of Cattlemen’s Associations. They don’t want any wolves, period. They also want radio collar information given out, according to this article!

      It should also be noted that this poor animals stomach was empty at the time of her necropsy.

      http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2014/aug/24/helicopter-gunners-kill-least-1-huckleberry-pack-wolf/

      So here we are, the same situation happening over and over. Vile.

  6. I am absolutely over the killing of predators to appease cattle ranchers who use public land to graze. What total BS. Get cattle off of my public lands. They do not belong there, destroy eco systems, and for what?? Maybe it’s time to shoot the cattle.

  7. I feel bad for the poor cattle too. I would never want to see them shot, I hated it when the BLM put on a show for the media by killing Bundy’s cattle! Cattle ranching is going to do a lot of harm to the lands as the population continues to grow in the future. People need to cut back on the amount of meat they eat, if not give it up altogether. These ranchers act like despotic kings because a mostly uncaring public allows it.

  8. Profanity Wolf Family Group, WA, WDFW, killing entire pack at rancher behest. Political management of wildlife at its worse: The wildlife officials have discovered, they believe, that killing an entire pack who started depredation on livestock is most efficacious for the entire pack, they believe, has learned to prey on easy prey, livestock. This is still totally out of line in terms of conservation. Wolves, other predators, should not be killed at the behest of ranchers leasing public land. It should be acceptable collateral damage for encroaching on wildlife. Ranchers should have non lethal management practices in place and active. Manage ranchers not wildlife. Retire those leases to wildlife conservation.

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