Three more removed from Wedge pack is progress, but not a solution
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today that they have successfully removed three more wolves from the “Wedge” pack in Eastern Washington, bringing the removal tally to five.
The pack, originally numbering from eight to 11, has repeatedly attacked cattle at the Diamond M Ranch in Stevens County this summer, killing 10 calves and injuring eight. The attacks occurred on public and private land despite many non-lethal deterrent efforts.
While the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association is encouraged that the Department is following through with their commitment to remove the Wedge pack, they want the Fish and Wildlife Commission to make management changes to prevent future “problem packs.”
“We are cautiously optimistic about the progress being made, but recognize the factors that brought the situation to total pack removal could easily be replicated in other parts of the region,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “With seven other wolf packs in the Tri-County area, it is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ other wolf attacks on livestock will occur. We need to give landowners the discretion to protect their property by delisting the wolf as a state endangered species.”
Nielsen notes if the Diamond M had been given more discretion to remove individual problem wolves when conflicts began this summer, it may have prevented the situation from escalating to entire pack removal.
“We will be seeing this situation again if the Wolf Conservation and Management plan isn’t amended,” said Nielsen. “And then, along with losses to ranchers, the taxpayers will again fund an expensive removal effort with aerial helicopters and other costly measures.”