The lone surviving member of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) wolf pack has been spared by the stroke of a federal judge’s pen.
IFiberOne News reports the Friday ruling was made just days after the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced it had already eliminated four of the pack’s five members in an effort to curtail their depredation of livestock.
The lawsuit was filed by a pair of Seattle residents with the backing of the animal rights group Center for a Humane Economy, which is based in Washington D.C.
The suit had initially sought a restraining order to prevent the lethal removal of wolves from the OPT pack, which was denied by the judge.
The same judge ruled Friday that “due diligence on non-lethal methods” had not been properly explored by the state and ranchers who were impacted by the predations.
“Having to carry out lethal removals of wolves is a difficult situation and something the department takes very seriously,” said Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman in an email to the Spokesman Review. “WDFW makes every effort to make a responsible decision after considering the available evidence. We appreciate the time the court put into reviewing this material and will work with the court throughout the process ahead.”
The suit contends the WDFW acted illegally and failed to properly follow the policies of the state’s Wolf Advisory Group by reauthorizing the order to lethally remove the OPT pack.
A series of WDFW investigations had shown the pack responsible for 29 depredation incidents. Director Kelly Susewind reauthorized the lethal removals on July 31, in response to continuing depredations of cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River range of Ferry County. The removal decision was made with guidance from the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the lethal removal provisions of the department’s wolf-livestock interaction protocol.
The OPT pack has been involved in 14 livestock depredations in the last 10 months, with nine in the last 30 days, and a total of 29 since Sept. 5, 2018. The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock took several proactive, nonlethal, conflict deterrence measures to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock, and WDFW will continue to monitor for wolf activity in the area and work closely with producers.
The OPT inhabits the same area as the Profanity Peak Pack, which the state killed seven members of in 2016.