Wolf

REPUBLIC — The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday that the four known remaining members of the Old Profanity Territory wolf pack were lethally removed.

A series of state Department of Fish and Wildlife investigations had shown the pack was responsible for 29 depredation incidents.

Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind reauthorized the lethal removals on July 31 in response to continuing depredations of cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River range of Ferry County.

The removal decision was made with guidance from the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the lethal removal provisions of the department’s wolf-livestock interaction protocol.

According to the agency, the wolf pack has been involved in 14 livestock depredations in the past 10 months, with nine in the last 30 days, and a total of 29 since Sept. 5, 2018. The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock took several proactive, nonlethal, conflict deterrence measures to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock, and Fish and Wildlife will continue to monitor for wolf activity in the area and work closely with producers, officials said.

This was the fourth time Susewind authorized lethal removal in the OPT pack since Sept. 12, 2018.

Plaintiffs, supported by the Maryland-based Center for a Humane Economy, filed a petition for review of Susewind’s July 31 reauthorization, and sought a temporary restraining order in King County Superior Court on Aug. 1. The motion for a restraining order was denied by a court commissioner at the time, allowing the removal effort to continue. The hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction was scheduled for Aug.16, when the court was expecting to, and did, hear an update on the department’s removal activities.

According to Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for Fish and Wildlife, the department had been working steadily to meet its stated intentions since the courts gave it the clearance to move forward on Aug. 1. To date the department has removed one wolf on Aug 7, 8 and 13, and four wolves on Aug. 16.

The agency believes it has removed all members of the pack, although another wolf was sighted in the area late this spring. That wolf may have dispersed from a different pack.

“I know this is an extremely difficult time for many of our communities around the state and having to carry out lethal removals of wolves is something we take very seriously,” Susewind said. “Hopefully we can pull from a diversity of perspectives, ideas, and approaches to find better solutions for coexistence.

Counsel for the agency appeared in court Friday for the preliminary injunction hearing. The court was told of the lethal removals that have occurred since the Aug. 1 hearing. At the end of the hearing, King County Superior Court Judge John McHale ruled from the bench and issued a preliminary injunction that would prohibit WDFW from lethally removing any remaining wolves from the pack until the court has a chance to hear the case’s  merits.

No wolves have been removed by Fish and Wildlife from the Togo Pack since the authorization, according to an update released Monday. There have been at least three additional depredations investigated and confirmed by the Togo pack in the last week.

On Aug 11, Fish and Wildlife staff received a report of three possible wolf depredations to livestock within the Togo pack area in Ferry County. WDFW staff conducted investigations on one deceased calf and two injured calves.

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