Death Sentence Issued for Entire Pack of Endangered Wolves

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) issued a death sentence for an entire pack of eight gray wolves due to conflicts with ranchers, despite the fact that wolves are listed as endangered under state law and proactive measures weren’t taken to prevent conflict.

“Once wolves become habituated to livestock as their primary food source, all of the wolf experts we’ve talked to agree that we have no alternative but to remove the entire pack,” said Phil Anderson, Director of the DFW. “By doing that, we will preserve the opportunity for the recovery of grey wolves in balance with viable livestock operations.”

The wolves in question, known as the Wedge pack, were discovered in July and are the first to come into the area since wolves were eradicated decades ago. This summer, the state killed a non-breeding female of the pack to see if that would deter them, even though at the time it was unclear whether they were killing or just scavenging carcasses that were already there. Yesterday, two were slaughtered after being shot from a helicopter a few miles away from the Canadian border.

The pack is believed to have killed or injured at least 15 calves and cows from the Diamond M Ranch in Stevens County despite non-lethal measures to control them, but some conservationists argue that the rancher who complained, Bill McIrvine, was uncooperative and could have done more to prevent predation.

Mitch Friedman, Director of Conservation Northwest, told King 5 that McIrvine should have done more to protect his cattle and points out that he didn’t join the range riding program like others had and argues that he should be responsible for using alternative methods to deter wolves since he’s grazing on publicly owned national forest land.

McIrvine reportedly “believes radical environmental groups are conspiring to introduce wolves in order to force ranchers off public lands.”

The state’s wolf management plan requires at least 15 breeding pairs distributed throughout the state for three years in a row before federal protection can be removed. As of now, there are only eight confirmed packs in the state.

Even though ranchers keep crying about financial losses and calling for wolves to be killed, the state’s wolf management plan allows for ranchers “to be compensated up to $1,500 per cow for wolf predation classified as ‘probable.’ The plan also allows ranchers to be paid up to twice that amount for lost livestock that are “confirmed” to have been killed by wolves on ranches over 100 acres.”

Officials believe wolves will relocate to the area over the next year or two, but conservationists want assurances that something like this won’t happen again.


Related Stories:

A Buffer Zone Could Go a Long Way for Wolves in Denali

Using Dogs to Hunt Wolves: Does Anyone See the Irony?

Wyoming Wolves Attack Far Fewer Cattle than Ranchers Claim

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Diane L.
Diane L.2 years ago

In the process of cleaning out old comments from my IN BOX, I found two more from you, Rosemary, directed at ME, in an 18-month-old article that is indeed, a "dead" issue in that the wolf pack referred to in the article was entirely destroyed. You said, "I see you're at it again, Diane"...........well, geez, I can say the same thing to you, Rosemary. The topic was to discuss the destruction of one pack that ended up actually happening. To discuss whether ranchers should or should not be allowed to graze cattle on public lands belongs in another article. You didn't even bother to actually read, it seems, what I was even stating. I am NOT condoning grazing cattle on public lands, quite the opposite. If you're going to insult or attack me, please bother to do so because of what I actually said, not for what you imagined I said.

Rosemary Lowe

I see you are at it again, on these blogs, Diane. You may say it is a "dead issue." Yes, many wolves are dead, that's for sure. But, other people on this blog do not necessarily agree with your POV. Why don't you just leave them alone, and let them discuss this issue. You can always move on to other blogs. By the way, ranchers do not have a "right" on public lands. They get many Federal subsidies, handouts, to graze on National Forests, wilderness, BLM & state lands. Then, Federal "Wildlife Services" poisons, traps, shoots and burns out dens of wild animals, to appease these ranchers. The Livestock Industry has decimated the native grasses, riparian areas, and polluted rivers and stream. Ranchers who allege that wolves, coyotes, etc., are killing livestock, are most often wrong. The statistics do not support their allegations.

Rosemary Lowe

The issue discussed on this blog is a on-going one, as the livestock industry pushes its never-ending war against the wild. This is not a mute discussion . Caring people who are really concerned about wolves, coyotes, bobcat, mountain lion, prairie dogs and other native wild animals need to understand that the politically savvy and financially powerful livestock industry will never stop its destructive mindset against certain animals. This prejudice towards so-called "predators" has been going on since the mid 1800's. Only when caring people form an aggressive movement to Abolish Public Lands Ranching, will native wildlife ever have peace or justice. Livestock due not belong on public lands. Native wild animals do. If ranchers cannot "make it" on private lands, too bad. No one is guaranteed a livelihood.

Michael Guest
Michael Guest2 years ago

How very disappointing and cruel. Blame the people for this tragic occurrence. The wolves don't deserve this. Make non-lethal methods to stop conflicts between wolves and people. This is very serious.

Marcia Shiel
M s3 years ago

REVOKE the farmers permits to graze on OUR PUBLIC LAND get his cattle OFF OF OUR LAND STOP DECIMATING OUR WOLVES that as#$ole farmer is irresponsible and lazy It is easy to blame the wolf,you fat as% jerk.. I hope you go bankrupt

Diane L.
Diane L.3 years ago

Marianne, the topic here is now a bit "MOOT" since the Wedge Pack has been eliminated.........the entire pack. There have been legislative sessions in Olympia since then to discuss the future of wolves in Washington State and the outcome has been that ranchers can now legally shoot any wolf that they "catch" endangering their livestock. The keyword is "catch". If the wolf is not actually in the act of threatening or endangering said livestock, then it is still illegal to shoot them.

It was said in the news that both "sides" applaud this decision as being fair. I would question whether ranchers would admit to shooting any wolf that was not actually engaged in trying to bring down their livestock. That's like asking somebody pulled over for speeding if they had a valid reason. Sure, officer, I was going 80 in a 50 mph zone because I really, REALLY had to get home fast to go "pee" vs. Nah, officer, I just liked to disobey the law.

Marianne Good
Past Member 3 years ago

Please do protect the wolves. Let wolves live free and healthy in their natural environment. There is space on planet earth for every living creature, including human beings.

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga3 years ago

come on, let the wolves live, stop hunting, killing animals

Diane L.
Diane L.3 years ago

Terry D., ranchers in Oregon have the right and DO shoot wolves on lands where their cattle graze. They interviewed several ranchers in Eastern Oregon right after the Wedge Pack had been shot and most carried rifles when working their herds, but most also said they would move cows with young calves and cows that were going to give birth SOON, to lower pastures where they could be better protected. They didn't WANT to kill wolves, but they surely would if one threatened their stock.

terry d.
terry dodson3 years ago

public land is public. it does not belong solely to ranchers. washington state should listen to the state of oregon. i am so ashamed of these people. t