The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today reported that a non-breeding adult female wolf from the Wedge pack in the Kettle Range in northeast Washington has been lethally removed, leaving two wolves in the pack. This action comes days after WDFW issued a lethal removal order for one wolf in this pack. WDFW has now moved to an evaluation period for both the Wedge and Togo wolf packs.
Zoë Hanley, Northwest Program Representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“The history is clear. Killing wolves is a short-term Band-Aid approach that has not and will not prevent ongoing conflicts. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife needs standardized protocols to ensure that effective range riding takes place prior to authorizing lethal control, and the U.S. Forest Service needs to promote grazing practices which reduce livestock vulnerability to predation. Defenders of Wildlife has said it before, and we’ll continue to say it – it’s time to take a new approach.”
• Lethal removal operations are recurring in this region of the Kettle Range, which includes multiple grazing allotments managed by the U.S. Forest Service. To date, the Forest Service has not publicly addressed the depredations or the effect they have on the landscape and the livestock producers, nor has the federal agency taken any meaningful actions to prevent further depredations.
• This region of northeastern Washington state– north of Highway 2 and south of the Canadian border– has been the site of repeated wolf-livestock conflicts. As part of the Colville National Forest, the land is managed by the Forest Service but to date there has not been the necessary response by the Forest Service to the “lessons learned” from those prior conflicts. Neither the non-lethal measures as implemented nor previous lethal removal of wolves has stopped this particular cycle of wolf-livestock conflict.
• Since new wolf packs continually return to this landscape and reproduce, even after multiple lethal removal operations, this area is considered highly suitable wolf habitat. Given the number of reproductive packs in northeastern Washington, and nearby populations in British Columbia and Idaho, this landscape is likely to be recolonized by new or replacement wolves on a regular basis and is already a population source for wolves dispersing throughout the state.