copyrighted wolf in water

Oct 24, 2016 12:45 PM MDTUpdated: Oct 24, 2016 12:49 PM MDT

GREAT FALLS –A wolf shot in September while killing sheep near Judith Gap in central Montana spent the previous three months traveling about 700 miles, starting in western Washington, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

When federal Wildlife Services killed the 2-year-old male on September 29, it was wearing a collar that had been affixed in February by Washington Fish and Wildlife biologists north of Spokane.

The wolf left its pack in June, turning east into Idaho, then north in Canada. It re-entered the United States on July 4 near Eureka, Montana, heading southeast.

“By late July, it was on the Rocky Mountain Front and Washington Fish and Wildlife called to let me know,” said Ty Smucker said, a wolf specialist with MT FWP.

Smucker was notified of the animal’s location about once a week.

“The wolf came out on the Rocky Mountain Front just east of Bean Lake on July 22,” Smucker said. “Then it spent over a month and a half moving around the lower Dearborn River Country, before heading toward Square Butte west of Great Falls on September 13.”

From Square Butte, the wolf turned east, keeping to the north side of the Little Belt Mountains, emerging on the foothills of the Little Belt Mountains west of Judith Gap on September 22, Smucker said.

Responding to a report of a wolf killing sheep, federal Wildlife Services killed the collared wolf on September 29 as it was leaving a band of sheep that it had been chasing and feeding on.

“It had to travel at least 700 miles total,” Smucker said.

The young wolf was probably looking for a mate, he added.

“Wolf packs consist of breeding pairs that generally produce 4-6 pups each spring,” he said. “As young wolves mature they typically disperse from their natal pack in search of potential mates and vacant territories in which to start their own packs.”

Sometimes that search can take the animal on a long journey. In 2015, a wolf left its pack’s territory west of Missoula and ended up 600 miles north in British Columbia.

While FWP occasionally receives reports of wolves in the Little Belt Mountains of central Montana, there are currently no known packs of wolves maintaining territories or producing pups in the area.

In addition, FWP does not capture and relocate problem wolves.

Montana’s wolf population has stabilized for the past eight years at a minimum of more than 500.

“Public hunting and trapping of wolves helps manage wolf numbers in Montana,” Smucker said. “Overall, Montana’s wolf population appears to be doing quite well.”

State Stops Wolf Kill For Now as Grazing Season Ends


Thursday, October 20, 2016 9:53 am

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has stopped its hunt for the Profanity Peak wolf pack now that the grazing season on public lands in the Colville National Forest is over for the year.

Agency Director Jim Unsworth lifted his previous order to kill off the pack Wednesday. The department, though, will continue to monitor the four remaining wolves in the pack, an adult female and three young, and target them again if they harm livestock this year.

The pack once numbered 12 wolves. Since Aug. 5, state wildlife staff members have shot and killed seven members of the pack. Another wolf, a pup, is presumed to have died of natural causes.

In all, the department documented 15 dead or injured cows. Of those, 10 were confirmed to have been preyed upon by wolves. The other five probably were, according to the department.

The pack is one of 19 documented in the state so far. Most are in the eastern third of the state, where they are not protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

Under state policy, the department can take lethal action against wolves if its field staff confirm four or more attacks on livestock in a calendar year, or six or more in two consecutive calendar years.

According to the department, ranchers in the area used by the Profanity Peak pack moved cattle onto public lands for grazing in early June. The wildlife department captured two adult members of the pack and fitted them with GPS radio collars, allowing the department to monitor the pack’s movements. By July 8, the department confirmed the first calf kill.

It was no surprise to some: Ranchers and local officials in Ferry County predicted problems with the pack, and in 2014 called for the pack’s elimination, according to the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.

The state is targeting the pack at public expense — as yet uncounted — to protect cattle grazing by ranchers on public lands and has raised a storm of controversy in Washington and beyond that has yet to subside.

The department promises a final report on its actions with regard to the pack next month.

Meanwhile, wolf recovery is expected to build in Washington.

Wolves were trapped, poisoned and hunted out of existence in Washington in the early 1900s, in part by ranchers to keep them away from sheep and cattle. Wolves began recolonizing the state in 2008, when the first packs were confirmed in Washington, from populations in Idaho and British Columbia.

There were about 90 wolves in the state as of early 2016, most of them documented in packs in Northeastern Washington.


WDFW suspends lethal action against Profanity Peak wolf pack



OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has suspended its pursuit of the remaining members of a wolf pack that preyed on cattle throughout the summer in northeast Washington.


WDFW Director Jim Unsworth today lifted his previous order authorizing staff to take lethal action to stop predation by the Profanity Peak wolf pack now that most livestock are being moved off federal grazing allotments in the Colville National Forest.


He noted, however, that the department will continue to monitor the four remaining wolves – an adult female and three juveniles – and will renew efforts to remove wolves if they resume preying on livestock this year.


“The goal of our action was to stop predations on livestock in the near future,” Unsworth said. “With the pack reduced in size from 12 members to four and most livestock off the grazing allotments, the likelihood of depredations in the near future is low.”


Since Aug. 5, state wildlife managers have shot and killed seven members of the pack after non-lethal deterrence measures failed to stop the pack from preying on cattle in the grazing area in Ferry County. Another wolf, a pup, is presumed to have died of natural causes.


As of Oct. 3, WDFW had documented 15 dead or injured cattle, including 10 confirmed and five probable wolf depredations.


The Profanity Peak pack is one of 19 wolf packs documented in Washington earlier this year. Sixteen of those packs – including four identified since the previous year – are located in the eastern third of the state, where wolves were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2009.


Unsworth said the department’s action against the Profanity Peak pack was consistent with both the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and a new protocol for the lethal removal of wolves developed this year by WDFW in conjunction with an 18-member advisory group composed of environmentalists, livestock producers and hunters.


Under that protocol, WDFW can take lethal action against wolves only if field staff confirms four or more attacks on livestock within a calendar year, or six or more attacks within two consecutive calendar years. The protocol also requires ranchers to employ specified non-lethal measures designed to deter wolves from preying on their livestock before WDFW will take lethal action against wolves.


Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy lead, said both of the ranchers who lost livestock to the Profanity Peak pack met that requirement by using range riders to help keep watch over their herds, and by removing or securing cattle carcasses to avoid attracting wolves. One rancher, he said, also turned his calves out to pasture at a higher weight to improve their chance of surviving an attack by predators.


Once the number of dead and injured cattle reached the threshold for lethal action, WDFW took incremental steps to remove wolves from the pack, as specified in the protocol.


Key events in the department’s involvement with the Profanity Peak pack include:


  • Early June: Ranchers arrived with their livestock on federal grazing allotments. WDFW field staff captured two adult members of the Profanity Peak pack and fitted them with GPS radio-collars, allowing the department to monitor the pack’s movements.


  • July 8: WDFW confirmed the first calf killed by wolves.


  • July 12: WDFW documented two probable wolf attacks, one of which was on a second rancher’s allotment.


  • Aug. 3: WDFW confirmed the fourth and fifth wolf attack on cattle and documented three probable wolf attacks. Per the protocol, the WDFW director authorized staff to remove some members of the pack to deter further depredation.


  • Aug. 5: WDFW removed two female wolves from the Profanity Peak pack.


  • Aug.18-19: The director ended his authorization for lethal removal after 14 days without a depredation. The next day, he authorized the removal of up to the full pack after field staff documented four more wolf attacks, two confirmed and two probable.


  • Aug. 21-Sept. 29: WDFW removed five more wolves from the Profanity Peak pack.


  • Oct 3: WDFW documented the last depredation on cattle by the Profanity Peak pack.


  • Oct 18: WDFW suspended lethal removal of wolves in the Profanity Peak pack.


Martorello said WDFW will continue to closely monitor the pack and will renew efforts to remove wolves if they return to preying on livestock this year.


Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber said his staff will take a defensive position and monitor the movements of the adult female wolf for signs of conflict with people, pets, or livestock in lowland areas.


WDFW will issue a complete report of its management actions regarding the Profanity Peak pack next month.


The state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/mgmt_plan.html.


WDFW’s protocol for removing wolves that prey on livestock is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/livestock/LethalRemovalProtocolGrayWolvesWashingtonDuringRecovery_05312016.pdf

Profanity Peak wolf pack attacks another calf as hunt continues


Washington wildlife managers have confirmed that a calf found this week on private land was injured by the diminished Profanity Peak wolfpack, a sign depredations will continue until the entire pack is eliminated, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The injured calf, found last week, was at least the 10th bovine attacked by the pack this summer, according to WDFW. The department concluded five other cattle were probably attacked by the pack.

WDFW has shot seven wolves in the pack since Aug. 5, leaving at least one adult female and three pups. The last shooting was Sept. 29.

Citing continuing depredations, WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello reaffirmed that the department plans to eliminate the entire pack.

“Given this pattern, we do not believe recent lethal removals are likely to achieve the goal of stopping depredations in the near future,” he said in an email.

Also Thursday, Martorello reported that WDFW investigators determined Sunday that the Dirty Shirt pack had injured a cow on a state Department of Natural Resources grazing allotment.

Martorello said the rancher turned out livestock June 5. Because of the depredation, the producer is moving the livestock off the allotment, he said.

The attack was the first confirmed depredation this year by the Dirty Shirt pack. WDFW considers culling a pack after four confirmed depredations. Only the Profanity Peak has reached that threshold this year.

Although WDFW says it intends to remove the pack — an operation that has outraged some environmental groups — frustration remains high among some ranchers in northeastern Washington, said Stevens County rancher Scott Nielsen, vice president of the Cattle Producers of Washington.

Conflicts between livestock and wolves are escalating, and WDFW’s official depredation tally reflects only a fraction of the losses in Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties, he said.

Losses may come into sharper focus when the grazing season on public season is over at the end of October.

“There are a lot of people worried about what they’re going to get when they bring (cattle) in,” Nielsen said. “I wouldn’t be surprised that if in this tri-county area there were 200 livestock missing or bitten.

“Last year, we hardly had any problems,” he said. “Everybody is having problems up here this year.”

Ferry County rancher Arron Scotten said Friday he will move his cows from the Colville National Forest over the next week to avoid conflicts with wolves. That’s two weeks earlier than usual.

“We’re trying to get cattle off the allotment, and what we’re finding are the injured calves that we weren’t necessarily finding before,” he said.

He said he expects calves to be thinner and fewer cows to be pregnant because they have been harassed by wolves.

“They became habituated to beef, and everywhere we moved cattle, they would follow,” Scotten said.

National Forest spokesman Franklin Pemberton said that he knows of at least one other rancher who plans to bring in his cows early.

The Forest Service and ranchers have tried all summer to adjust grazing plans to create space between cattle and wolves, he said.

“It was a little more intensive this year than last,” Pemberton said. “The number of wolves goes up every year.”

Scotten said he’s concerned that wolves will follow his cattle out of the national forest.

“With this situation, the way it is, when we bring them home, we’ll be doing daily checks,” Scotten said.

Ending the grazing season early will lead to spending more money on hay this winter, he said.

Scotten said he plans to feed his cows closer to his house this winter and install lights in calving pens.

“We’re trying our best to do our part,” he said. “Everything we do literally has to change. We have to rethink every aspect of how we produce cattle.”

Alpha female mom and pup

The Killers Within

Alpha female mom and pup


Today, as it has been for many weeks, the motion-sensing cameras are in place on trees in the forest. In the few small meadows in this remote stretch just east of the North Cascades, there are bait stations being set. The goal is to kill the wildness from our forests, by destroying the wolves: in this case, the remaining pups and a single female, which is all that remains of the once great Profanity Peak Pack.

Why is it that wildness and animals such as wolves must continue to be destroyed to maintain ignorance? We are witness to a killing that goes beyond a need, goes beyond logic and is filled with terror, suffering and pain for the wolves involved.

Yet, the most disturbing aspect of this killing is not the actions by the livestock industry; their behavior and guilt in this killing is something they wear like an escutcheon on their heart. It’s the actions of those organizations that view themselves as conservationists.

Let’s be clear, it is not the work of their organizers, or those that spend countless long hours in their offices. These are good hard working people, who care very deeply about conservation and wolves. It is the direction of their Boards of Directors and those that take leadership positions in organizations that are sanctioning the destruction of these animals. They include: Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Wolf Haven International and Conservation Northwest.

I mention these names again because like many people, I believe the following:

  • The relationship between humans and wildlife is akin to a sacred trust. It is something in these times of massive exploitation of the earth we must take more seriously than ever;
  • Animals feel pain and understand humans, that relationship should not be based on fear, but trust and in our case tremendous respect and responsibility for ensuring their co-existence;
  • The protection of wilderness and the wildness that animals bring to wilderness is a gift to humanity, making it priceless;
  • As conservationists, we more than any, have the moral obligation to fight for species and wildness, it is our core mission;
  • Wolves are symbolic of all we hold dear about nature: wild nature. They are vital to maintaining balance and rewilding the lands that cattle have been placed into to subjugate that wildness, which represents our sprit and the earth in its purest form.

When organizations masquerade as defenders of wolves they must be called out. These groups want you to believe that by working within the system they are generating progress for wolves. The problem remains that this is a rigged system, one that does not understand or accept wildness, but defines land in terms of profit zones. Through such a lens, it sees ‘predators’ not balance or perfection. It allows the livestock industry to place cows in some of our wildest country so they can count the days to depredation. It Ignores pain and suffering and places an emphasis on compromise, which in this case means the savage killing of wolves.

Conservation groups that buy into this thinking are accepting from the start that wildness is somehow an abstraction. They see the killing of pups and animals in a systematic and cruel manner as the price for insider status, which helps give them fundraising superiority. Through these actions, we relinquish the moral high ground and give ranchers moral authority in negotiations.

You see, compromising and allowing the killing is the easy way out. Fighting and changing people’s opinion and understanding of wolves requires real organizing and education and will require holding a tough public stance.
There remains a real answer, but like many elections means people may have to accept not voting for the favorite, but committing to real systemic change. We can no longer allow wolves to be killed. We cannot contribute to organizations that continue to yield of the principles of wildness and species to the seduction of fundraising and the internal pressure of a sheltered group of Foundations that see only cooperation and compromise as the avenue for healthy wolf populations.  We do not need mega-groups, just like we do not need factory farms. Such corruption is directly contributing to the current wildlife slaughter.

High in the east side of the cascades as the evening takes hold a lone female tries once again through shear will to feed the packs remaining pups, cameras follow her movements. This morning once again, a chopper will hover close by, sharpshooter waiting to make his kills.  Historic estimates show that it will cost $200,000 to steal these vital lives; is this what we want for wolves? Is this making our lands healthier? The answer is simply we are continuing to feed the ignorance which has killed the spirit from our lands though these compromising actions.

Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Wolf Haven International and Conservation Northwest, the time have come to rethink your positions. You are now partners in the killing of innocents: the murder of wildness. The time has come to partner with those that seek a new vision for the West: one that involves rewilding, respect for all creatures and a vision for rural communities that goes beyond livestock. To get there will require passion, vision and a resolve that keeps the Profanity Peak pack alive in our collective hearts.

Forest Service disputes Humane Society’s Washington wolves claim

Wolf advocates protest Sept. 1 in Olympia the shooting of wolves in the Colville National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife dispute a claim by the president of the Humane Society of the United States that state wildlife managers asked the Forest Service to withdraw a grazing permit to prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock.

DON JENKINS/CAPITAL PRESS Published on September 13, 2016

Wolf advocates protest Sept. 1 in Ol

http://www.capitalpress.com/20160913/forest-service-disputes-humane-societys-washington-wolves-claimympia the shooting of wolves in the Colville National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife dispute a claim by the president of the Humane Society of the United States that state wildlife managers asked the Forest Service to withdraw a grazing permit to prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock.

The Colville National Forest issued a statement Monday contradicting a claim by the national head of the Humane Society of the United States that state wildlife managers asked the Forest Service to cancel grazing to prevent conflicts between cattle and wolves.

In a Humane Society blog post Sept. 9, Wayne Pacelle, the organization’s president and CEO, wrote that the state Department of Fish and Wildlife “saw a problem brewing and asked the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw the grazing permit, but the federal agency rebuffed the request.”

Through a forest spokesman, the Forest Service said it was not asked to pull permission to graze. The agency said it has been working with state officials and advisers to prevent wolves from attacking livestock.

“There has been no request made by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Washington Wolf Advisory Group to withdraw the grazing permit. The Colville National Forest will continue working closely with these organizations to help reduce predator/cattle conflicts,” the Forest Service stated.

A WDFW spokesman said the department didn’t ask the Forest Service to withdraw grazing allotments.

“We know of no request from WDFW staff — even at the field level — for the USFS to withdraw grazing permits in the allotments associated with the Profanity Peak pack,” he said in an email.

Efforts to reach the Humane Society’s national office and Washington state director Dan Paul were unsuccessful.

A member of the Wolf Advisory Group, Paul agreed last spring to a policy that allows for state-protected wolves to be killed if efforts by ranchers to prevent depredations have failed.

The policy is under attack by animal-rights activists and environmental groups, some of whom have accused ranchers of willfully putting their livestock at risk.

Washington State University wolf researcher Rob Wielgus told The Seattle Times a rancher turned out cattle “on top” on a wolf den. WSU officials rebuked Wielgus and said the comment was inaccurate.

In his blog post, Pacelle said cattle were placed “right in the center” of the pack’s range.

According to WDFW, 198 cow-calf pairs cows were released 4 miles from the pack’s den in early June. The whereabouts of the den was unknown at the time, according to WDFW.

Wolves have attacked since early July at least eight cattle in the national forest and probably attacked five others, though there too little evidence to rule out another predator, according to WDFW.

Livestock have been attacked as far away as 10 miles from the pack’s den and rendezvous sites, according to WDFW.

The department has announced shooting six wolves and says it intends to kill the Profanity Peak pack’s other five members.

Although its policy calls for at least weekly reports on the number of wolves killed, WDFW has not provided an update since Sept. 2.

Pacelle stated that the Humane Society of the U.S. wants the Washington’s wolf policy to be re-examined. “We are urging that the idea of killing an entire pack be taken off the table entirely.”

WDFW’s lethal-control policy emerged from lengthy meetings between Washington ranchers, environmentalists, hunters and animal-rights activists.

The agreement has helped ease tensions and made future collaboration on managing Washington’s growing wolf population more promising, Washington Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Jack Field said.

“I know there is a lot of attention and focus on the removal effort, but the department is following the protocol to a T,” he said.

The Wolf Advisory Group will meet Wednesday and Thursday in Issaquah. The two-day meeting was scheduled before WDFW started removing the Profanity Peak pack.

Field said he hoped conservationists on the advisory panel can withstand the pressure exerted by other environmental groups. “Because if not, we’re right back where we started,” he said.

Excerpt: Letter from Predator Defense on the slaughter of the Profanity Peak pack

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

The Profanity Peak wolf pack was wrongfully slaughtered. They were set up for the kill. The rancher, a known wolf-hater, put his cattle to graze on pristine, forested public land in the core of the pack’s territory. His cattle, of course, displaced the wolves’ normal prey–elk and deer. The cattle then became prey. The rancher did not use anywhere close to an adequate level of nonlethal deterrents to prevent predation. He also put salt blocks near the pack’s den, according to WDFW, which drew the cattle right to the wolves. And so, the wolves predated on the cattle.

After this WDFW’s Wolf Policy Lead had the gall to state in a TV interview: “Is that really the wolf population we want to repopulate the state? Wolves that have demonstrated that behavior and see livestock as prey items.” In other words, wolves being wolves (let alone being set up!) and doing the job nature gave them as apex predators should not be themselves?!

So WDFW has now killed at least 6 of the 11-member pack and is actively trying to kill the rest. This situation is an outrage! The slaughter of the Profanity Peak Pack must be stopped. And cattle should cease being placed in wolves’ territory unless truly adequate nonlethal control methods are in use. There are also areas where it is inappropriate to have livestock, and this is surely one of them.

Brooks Fahy
Executive Director, Predator Defense

State Turns Down Sanctuary’s Proposal to Save Wolves Facing Extermination


Profanity Peak Pack: Official Says California Facility’s Offer Isn’t Feasible

Posted: Friday, September 9, 2016 7:45 pm

Washington state officials have rejected a proposal by a wildlife preserve to save the Profanity Peak wolf pack targeted for extermination.

“We received the proposal to relocate the remaining Profanity Peak pack members to California, but that approach just isn’t feasible,” said Eric Gardner, assistant director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in an emailed statement.

Lorin Lindner and Matthew Simmons, co-founders of the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center, a 4,000-acre preserve near the Los Padres mountains in Ventura County, Calif., offered to use helicopters to find and tranquilize the wolves, then move them to the preserve.

The pack, originally estimated at 11 animals — six adults and five pups — was cut in half in August after six of the wolves were killed. State officials authorized the exterminations following a series of attacks on livestock put out to graze on public land in the Colville National Forest.

Since mid-July, WDFW has confirmed that wolves from the Profanity Peak pack have killed or injured six cattle and possibly five others. The most recent incident occurred on Aug. 31, when a calf was killed, a WDFW spokesman said.

Simmons and Lindner said they began putting out feelers about their proposal after hearing of the state’s decision in August. 

Last week, they traveled from California to rural Ferry County to make a pitch directly to state and local officials about providing a nonlethal alternative at no cost the state.

“We knew it was a last-ditch effort,” Simmons said. “Bringing wolves into a sanctuary should be a last option, but we think it’s a viable one if the alternative is killing the animals.”

But according to WDFW officials, Simmons’ proposal is unworkable. “We know from experience that darting and capturing wolves when there’s no snow on the ground to slow them down isn’t practical,” Gardner said.

Reached Thursday, Simmons rejected the state’s assessment of his offer, adding that he would be open to adjusting the means of removing the wolves.

“People in your state seem to be determined to kill these animals even when there’s an offer to remove them that won’t cost the state a dime,” he said.

The fate of the remaining members of the wolf pack remains in limbo. The department is open to new strategies, but will continue to re-evaluate the situation at the end of each week to determine whether efforts to exterminate the pack should continue, said WDFW spokesman Craig Bartlett. What, if any, nonlethal strategies are being considered was not immediately made clear.

State policy authorizes “lethal removal” after confirming that wolves have preyed on livestock at least four times in one calendar year, or six times in two consecutive years. Livestock must have been confirmed to have been killed by wolves in at least one of the events.

The state’s Wolf Advisory Group is scheduled to hold meetings on wolf management policy in North Bend on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Profanity of the Profanity Peak Wolf Pack Massacre

By George Wuerthner

The recent killing of six members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack in NE Washington in retribution for the loss of a few cattle is emblematic of what is wrong with public land policy. As I write, trappers are out to kill the remaining pack members – including 4-month old pups.

What is significant about the destruction of this pack is that the Profanity Peak wolves roamed national forest lands. These are our lands. They belong to all Americans and are part of our national patrimony.

Currently private commercial businesses such as the livestock industry are allowed to use public lands if they do not damage, degrade and impoverish our public lands heritage. Clearly the killing of this pack violates that obligation and responsibility.

What is particularly egregious about the on-going slaughter of the Profanity Pack is that it was essentially a preventable conflict. Had the rancher, whose cows invaded the wolf pack’s territory, been required to use other public lands, or better yet, simply lease private pasture, there would have been no livestock losses, hence wolf deaths.

Placing cows on top of a wolf pack territory is analogous to, and irresponsible as leaving picnic baskets or coolers out in a campground. In most national parks, if you leave a cooler or other food available to bears, you are fined for this careless behavior. We don’t blame the bear if it happens to eat that food. But when it comes to the livestock industry, we essentially allow four-legged picnic baskets to roam at will on our lands, and should a predator – be it a coyote, cougar, bear or wolf – kill one of those mobile picnic baskets, we don’t hold the rancher responsible, we kill the public wildlife.

This represents the wrong priorities.

We expect different behavior from people using public resources. I can, and do, mark up and highlight passages in books that I own in my personal library, but it would be inappropriate for me to mark up or otherwise damage books in a public library.

In a similar manner, we should expect different consequences for livestock owners who willingly use public lands (at almost no cost I might add) for their private commercial interests. In this case and others like it across the public lands of the West, we should expect ranchers utilizing public lands (our lands) to at the least accept any losses from predators that may occur while they are using public property. And if conflicts continue, we should remove the livestock, not the wolves or other predators.

It’s important to note that the mere presence of livestock negatively impacts wolves whether they are shot or otherwise killed.

Domestic livestock consume forage that would otherwise support the native prey of wolves, like elk. So more domestic animals means fewer elk.  In essence, domestic livestock grazing public lands are compromising the food resources of public wildlife so that ranchers can turn a private profit.

Worse for wolves, especially wolves confined to a den area because of pups, as was the case in the Profanity Peak Pack, when domestic cattle are moved onto our public lands, it creates a social displacement of elk. In other words, elk avoid areas actively being grazed by livestock. If the livestock are grazing lands near a den site, then the wolves automatically have fewer elk to take and must travel further to find their dinner.

Who can blame the wolves if they take the most available prey—which is often domestic livestock. Robert Weilgus, a Washington State University professor, studying the Profanity pack noted that cattle were placed near the den site, or as he was quoted in a Seattle Times article as saying the cattle were released “right on top of the den”.

Some commentators, including Washington State University tried to discredit Wielgus suggesting the cattle were released about four miles away. What that demonstrates is either their ignorance of wolf biology or a not so-veiled attempt to confuse the public. If you are a wolf where regular daily hunting exclusions of 20-30 miles are common, four miles is a short romp. It is essentially “right on top” of the wolves.

If you place cattle within a dozen miles of a wolf pack you are essentially putting the livestock “right on top” of the wolves. And if the presence of cattle forces native prey like elk to abandon the area, can anyone blame the wolves if they resort to killing a domestic animal once in a while?

The loss of the Profanity Peak Pack has occurred on the same grazing allotment where another wolf pack was destroyed in 2012. This begs the question of whether any livestock grazing should be permitted in this area. It is obviously good wolf habitat—except of course for the presence of domestic animals. The only realistic long-term solution is to retire the grazing allotment. Either transfer the cattle to another portion of the public lands or, better yet, simply pay the rancher with a voluntary permit retirement to close the allotment and permanently remove the livestock.

George Wuerthner is an ecologist who has been studying predators for four decades. He serves on the Science Advisory Board of Project Coyote and is the author of 38 books including Welfare Ranching, Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy, Energy: The Delusion of Endless Growth and Overdevelopment, Thrillcraft, and Keeping the Wild.

Group protests eradication of Profanity Peak wolf pack


OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Dozens of protesters gathered outside of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to decry the killing of a pack of wolves in northeastern Washington.

The group rallied in opposition of the agency’s decision to eradicate the Profanity Peak pack in order to protect cattle. WDFW has been using hunters flying in helicopters to shoot the animals north of Sherman Pass. Many protesters carried pictures of wolves and signs that read “Protect The Wolves” and “Stop The Slaughter.”

Since mid-July, WDFW has confirmed that wolves from the Profanity Peak pack have killed or injured six cattle and probably five others.

So far, six of the 11 members of the pack have been killed. Remaining are two radio-collared adults, used by the department to track the wolves, and several pups.