A northeast Washington wolf pack attacking cattle in Stevens County will be culled and possibly eliminated, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday.
Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind authorized the department to kill one and possibly both of the remaining wolves in the Wedge pack. The department killed one female wolf July 27, hoping to stop the depredations.
Since then, however, the pack has attacked two more calves. The pack has killed four cattle and injured 19 since May 11. The livestock belonged to three different ranches.
“WDFW expects depredations to continue even with non-lethal tools being utilized,” the department said in a statement. “Staff also believe there are no reasonable additional responsive, non-lethal tools that could be deployed.”
Efforts to stop the depredation without resorting to shooting wolves included deploying range-riders from the Northwest Washington Wolf Cattle Collaborative and the Cattle Producers of Washington to monitor cattle.
The department issued the statement shortly before 8 a.m. and said the operation would not start until Wednesday. The department promised a judge in 2018 to give wolf advocates one day to seek a restraining order. Most lethal-removal orders have not been challenged.
Removing the pack won’t harm wolf recovery in Washington, according to Fish and Wildlife. Washington’s recovery plan calls for wolves to have a much wider distribution than they do now.
The department has not announced whether it will use lethal control on the Leadpoint wolf pack, also in Stevens County. The pack killed two calves and injured eight others between June 19 and Aug. 7 in a private pasture, according to the department.