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It's come to this

Sep 20, 2012

“We have been strong advocates for exhausting all non-lethal means possible to avoid this situation and are extremely disappointed that it has come to this,” Mitch Friedman, Conservation Northwest.

It's come to this

Wolf from Washington's Strawberry Pack. Most of Washington's wolves are faring well - except the Wedge Pack. Photo: Colville Confederated Tribes

Of the nine packs returned to Washington, with the latest pack confirmed this month on the Colville Reservation, almost all of the packs seem to be faring well and have stayed clear of trouble with livestock this summer – with the exception of the Wedge Pack. Wolves in the Wedge, located in northeastern Washington between the Kettle and Columbia rivers close to Canada, have been involved in repeated depredation of calves belonging to the Diamond M Ranch.

In the earliest incidents, experts could not agree that wolves were involved, and we urged the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to proceed cautiously. In the most recent incidents, however, all experts, including Carter Niemeyer, agree that members of the Wedge Pack are responsible.

"Seeing other communities that have managed to find ways of coexisting with wolves gives us hope that we can have wolves back on the landscape with ranchers’ livelihoods largely unaffected (or at least livestock losses kept to a minimum)." - Jasmine Minbashian, Conservation Northwest. Read Avoiding a Wedge issue

Despite the WDFW trying unsuccessfully to reduce the pack in size, losses have mounted. The pack’s pattern of attacks has been continuous, and has escalated in recent weeks. There is a very high likelihood that this pack has switched from the normal pattern of preying on deer, elk, and moose to focus on cattle. The WDFW has decided to remove the pack entirely.

WDFW has issued a press release, statement from Conservation NW

Wolf managers have long recognized that the only way healthy populations of wolves will be sustained is if the problems they cause locally are addressed quickly and effectively.  In situations like the one involving the Wedge Pack, experts from across the West agree:  Eliminating the pack will help reset the stage for wolves that are not habituated to livestock to establish themselves in that area.

Killing the Wedge Pack is tragic. Yet having wolves back on the landscape is a new issue for Washington and at times a difficult one. It will take time to adapt to living with wolves in Washington.

What is certain is that the best long-term solution is to reduce the chance of wolf-livestock conflicts occurring in the first place. Learn about lethal removal and proactive, non-lethal methods to deter wolves, including use of range riders, have proven successful in other states and abroad. As a matter of fact, starting this summer, Conservation Northwest helped a local northeastern Washington rancher hire a range rider in a pilot program for Washington's wolves and ranchers.

"Land of the Lost Wolves" special presentation, Nov 1 in Seattle
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