The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a kill order for an entire wolf pack in Northeastern Washington.
There are between 8 and 11 wolves in the Wedge Pack. Government officials and ranchers in Stevens County believe the pack is to blame for two more injured calves this week.
There have already been 15 attacks on cows in recent months, despite ongoing efforts by ranchers.
Officials killed one young female pack member earlier this summer.
Now the state department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that they will try to kill all of the remaining members. The Washington agency did not alert the media about its decision until late Friday afternoon. EarthFix learned about its decision through a tip earlier that day.
Jack Field, with the Washington Cattleman’s Association, applauded the department’s move.
“The ranchers are doing everything they physically and legally can do,” he said. “In this case, and in any time there’s chronic depredation, we need to remove the problem wolves to save the good wolves.”
Mitch Friedman, with Conservation Northwest, called the situation a “crisis” but acknowledged that the removal may be necessary.
“The predation events seem to be almost daily at this point but we can only support eliminating a pack if we know we’re not going to end up right back here again in a year from now,” he said.
But right now there’s no guarantee that the predation will stop once this pack is removed. In fact, the Department initially said removing just four pack members would suffice. Two weeks later, they’ve set their sights on the whole pack.
State Congressman Kevin Ranker says removing this pack is a sign that the Department has failed.
“If this pack needs to be removed in it’s entirety it’s not the fault of the wolves it’s the fault of the agency and their wolf plan. They don’t have a plan for success. The lesson learned is that if there’s predation the whole pack disappears.”
This is the first major test of the state wolf management plan that was approved earlier this year.
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