Wolf advocates outraged state is preparing to kill wolves

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Wolf advocates are outraged that the state is preparing for the second time to exterminate a wolf pack for preying on livestock in northeastern Washington.

This is the second time in four years that a pack of endangered wolves has received the death penalty because of the grazing of privately owned cattle on publicly owned lands.

Washington is home to about 90 wolves, and killing the 11 members of the Profanity Peak pack amounts to 12 percent of the population, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced to would exterminate the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County. Since mid-July, the agency has confirmed that wolves have killed or injured six cattle and probably five others, based on staff investigations.

State wildlife officials shot two pack members on Aug. 5, but announced an end to the hunting after two weeks passed without finding any more evidence of wolf attacks.

“At that time, we said we would restart this operation if there was another wolf attack, and now we have three,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy lead. “The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves.”

Martorello noted that removing the entire Profanity Peak pack may prove challenging, given the rugged, timbered landscape in the area.

The Profanity Peak wolf pack is one of 19 known wolf packs in Washington state. Earlier this summer, WDFW determined that the pack had at least 11 members, including six adults and five pups.

Since 2008, the state’s confirmed wolf population has grown from two wolves in one pack to at least 90 wolves and 19 packs by early 2016.