The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced a new lethal removal order for up to two members of the Togo wolf pack in the Kettle Range. This pack, which numbers three individuals, was targeted under a lethal removal issued in June 2020, following seven depredations in the past 10 months, including one earlier this month. No action was taken under the previous lethal removal order from 2019, which then expired.
Zoë Hanley, Northwest Program Representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“This lethal removal order is a disturbing foreshadowing of what this year could bring for wolves in Washington. The latest depredation occurred during a challenging time of year where domestic calves are vulnerable. Cattle Producers of Washington publicly stated their hired cowboys would focus on finding dead and injured cows, which is too little too late. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife should ensure that range riders work to reduce depredations in prime wolf habitat rather than killing wolves as the solution.”
• In response to the six depredations in 2019, a lethal removal order was reauthorized by WDFW on August 9, 2019.
• In September 2019, Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) requesting that the agency reexamine its wolf management plan in light of the chronic depredations occurring in the northeastern portion of the state. The agency has not yet publicly responded to this letter.
Wolf Management in the Kettle River Range
• Since November 2017 there have been 18 depredations by the Togo Pack in the Kettle River range of Ferry County. In response WDFW issued three lethal removal orders
Kettle River Range and the U.S. Forest Service
• Lethal removal operations are ongoing 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 actions to prevent further depredations.
• This region of the Kettle range – north of Sherman pass and south of the Boulder Highway – has been the site of repeated wolf-livestock conflicts. As part of the Colville National Forest, the land is managed by the U.S. 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.