OLYMPIA — A male wolf in a pack that killed a cow and injured two calves in August in northeast Washington can be killed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, a judge ruled today.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy declined to extend a restraining order that expires at 5 p.m. today. Another judge had issued the order Aug. 20. Since then, a rancher said he shot at the wolf in self-defense and apparently wounded it in the left rear leg.
The wolf, which is wearing a radio collar that transmits its GPS locations, remains mobile, according to Fish and Wildlife. The department’s wolf policy coordinator, Donny Martorello, said the department believes attacks on livestock will continue, even though one of the pack’s two known adults is injured.
The wound may cause the wolf to seek out cattle rather than deer, he said. “It may have a propensity for slower prey.”
The Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands obtained the restraining order Aug. 20 from Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese. Murphy presided over a hearing today on whether to extend the order. She said the two environmental groups had failed to show that they would suffer irreparable harm if the department shot the wolf.
The two groups plan to continue to pursue their broader claim that Fish and Wildlife’s lethal-removal policy on wolves violates state law because it was not adequately vetted scientifically or with the public. “We’re not done,” Center for Biological Diversity wolf organizer Amaroq Weiss said.
The department’s policy calls for it to consider lethal removal after three depredations in 30 days or four depredations in 10 months. The Togo pack crossed both thresholds by attacks on cattle in Ferry County dating back to Nov. 2. Three attacks occurred between Aug. 8 and Aug. 18 on U.S. Forest Service grazing allotments.