A wolf that was the subject of a court battle was killed Sunday by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A marksman in a helicopter shot the adult male wolf in Ferry County, east of Danville and just south of the U.S.-Canada border, according to Fish and Wildlife. The wolf was the first killed in the state this year to stop attacks on livestock. It had been wounded in the leg by a rancher who said he shot at the animal in self-defense Aug. 23.
A judge Friday lifted a restraining order issued Aug. 20 that had blocked the department from targeting the wolf, one of two known adults in the Togo pack. Fish and Wildlife attributes six attacks on livestock since November to the pack, including three in August.
The wolf had been trapped and fitted with a GPS collar in June. Fish and Wildlife reported that department employees searched for the wolf on the ground Friday evening and again Saturday, but were unable to find it.
The wolf was found the next morning in the pack’s territory, according to the department.
Fish and Wildlife confirmed the wolf’s left rear leg had been injured. The department says it will perform a necrospy.
The wolf’s death leaves an adult female and pups in the pack. Fish and Wildlife said it will continue to monitor the pack and work with the rancher to prevent more attacks on livestock.
Fish and Wildlife conducted the operation. A federal judge in Tacoma, siding with environmental groups, ruled in 2015 that USDA’s Wildlife Services could not help the state lethally remove wolves.
Two environmental groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands, sought to block Fish and Wildlife from shooting the wolf. They claimed the department’s lethal-removal policy did not undergo required scientific review.
Fish and Wildlife argued that shooting the wolf would not be a blow to establishing wolves in Washington and that the department was following guidance from an advisory group that includes environmental and animal-welfare groups.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy declined to extend the order, which was issued by a different judge.