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Bill Mcirvin defends his ranch at wolf meeting

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By John Saul
The Seattle Times

Many questioned if non-lethal methods of separating livestock and wolves were used earlier enough and fully, whether all the livestock killed were fully investigated to prove wolves were responsible and whether killings could have been done incrementally to see if that would have changed the pack's behavior and its feeding on livestock.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission met for five hours on Friday afternoon, got an update on the state's wolf management plan and the department's decision to kill the wolves in the Wedge Pack in Stevens County. After the meeting the department posted the presentation on its Facebook page.

Then the commission opened the mike for public comments and 40 people voiced their opinions on the plan, the decision to kill the pack and where things should go from here. Most who spoke said they hoped that how the Wedge Pack situation was handled would help prevent something similar happening in the future, that lethal control of an entire pack would not be necessary again.

Many questioned if non-lethal methods of separating livestock and wolves were used earlier enough and fully, whether all the livestock killed were fully investigated to prove wolves were responsible and whether killings could have been done incrementally to see if that would have changed the pack's behavior and its feeding on livestock.

Cattlemen and county officials from Eastern Washington called for regional delisting of wolves -- taking the animals off endangered species status in areas of the state where the livestock industry is an economic basis.

Bill Mcirvin, one of the owners of the Diamond M ranch that lost 17 head of cattle, gets the last word here to address accusations they had not done all they could to keep their cattle safe, that they resorted too quickly to calling for elimination of the wolf pack:

"We've done everything the department has suggested except for a range riding program and we have five riders of our own who do it very well. We refused compensation for our killed stock because it would look like it was all right if the wolves ate our cattle as long as we got compensated. It's not all right.

"If that pack was still there, we could not use that land because cattle would not go up there. They ran from that area, ran through fences. They were so tormented they would not go there.

"Half of the cattle were killed on our private ground, not on public land. Also, the game in the Wedge area is decimated. There's bears, cougars and wolves and there's no game base left. We need regional delisting.

"Last of all, thanks to the department for taking this action so myself and my family could stay in business."

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