In the Colville National Forest located in Northeastern Washington, a pack of wolves started killing and maiming cattle. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife or WDFW killed off most of the pack before a case was filed before the King County Superior Court to protect the wolves. The hearings were scheduled to take place last Friday morning and though the court stayed the killings, the dirty work had already been done.
Known as the Old Profanity Territory pack, their destruction is an unbelievable tragedy. From the Center of Biological Diversity, Sophia Ressler pointed out that it seemed like the WDFW was determined to completely annihilate the wolves in the state when she spoke to the Associated Press.
According to the State of Washington’s strategy to manage wolves, ‘lethal removal’ is part of their protocol when wolves start attacking cattle in areas in the east. In this region, wolves aren’t considered endangered in the federal lists. Ranchers who have been threatened by wolves can kill them. But the WDFW only allows ‘lethal removal’ when the person whose cattle are in danger can prove that they took prudent steps to keep their animals safe. They must have also hired a range rider, a cowboy who flashes lights and makes sounds to ensure that wolves are too scared to come in and take away animals that are always unwell or hurt.
Of course, the WDFW stated that all necessary measures had been put into place to keep animals safe from the Old Profanity Territory pack. However, according to the Center For A Humane Economy, the organization which filed the suit to protect the wolves in court, the person who had suffered the loss had dismissed the state’s own range riders by the end of the first week of July. Out of the 14 attacks on cattle, more than half had taken place post that period. They were also wary of the fact that WDFW decided to murder the wolves just hours before the suit was scheduled to be heard in court.
According to Wayne Pacelle, President of the Center for a Humane Economy, it was almost as if WDFW decided to get to the wolves right just in case the court decided to grant them protection. However, Staci Lehman, an official spokesperson for the WDFW simply said that it was unfortunate timing. She further went on to say that it is always unfortunate having to kill wolves and that the Department never takes these cases lightly.
The order to lethally remove the pack was passed at the end of July by the Director of WDFW, Kelly Susewind, after 29 attacks on cattle were reported. Seven wolves have been murdered since then including four pups. So far, all the wolves known to be part of the pack have been removed though it seems that there is one left in the area. It could be from a different pack or the last living member of the Old Profanity Territory Pack.
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Moreover, Pacelle also pointed out that the complaints were from the Diamond M Ranch which belongs to the McIrvin family. They have used their cattle as bait for wolves and then filed complaints in order to get the wolves killed. A vast majority of the wolves removed thus far are because of complaints from them. The Center hopes to ensure that Washington state no longer allows people to use the territory of the wolves as grazing land.
As of now, the reports have come out regarding the wolf deaths:
1 wolf on 7th August.
1 wolf on 8th August
1 wolf on 13th August
4 wolves on 16th August
It’s a tragedy that such lives were lost, which might have been prevented.
IMAGE CREDIT: Veronika DvoÅ™Ã¡kovÃ¡