As wolf problems have escalated in Eastern Washington with the recent sheep kills by the Huckleberry pack and the confirmation of a new pack near Curlew, the Profanity Pack, depredating on cattle area county commissioners have recently taken action on the issue.
The Stevens County Commissioners recently passed two different resolutions outlining their stance on the wolf issue. The August 29 resolution asserted that citizens have Constitutional rights to “defend their property from wolves” and affirmed that Stevens County residents can “kill a wolf or multiple wolves if reasonably necessary to protect their property.” The Board went a step further on September 17, citing that WDFW had “failed to act” in regards to the Huckleberry wolf pack because WDFW Director Phil Anderson had authorized the removal of four wolves from the pack after it chronically depredated on a sheep herd near Hunters, but only one was killed. The wolf kills were approved after numerous additional non-lethal methods were brought in in addition to the rancher’s regular predator deterrents of a full-time herder, 4 guard dogs and continual rotation of the sheep. Because of this failure to remove the four wolves that forced the rancher to leave his private grazing permit, the Stevens County Commissioners declared they would “consider all available options to protect the residents of Stevens County, their families and their property.”
“No person should be forced off their legal personal property which they have a Constitutional right to occupy by inappropriate actions of the State,” the Stevens County Commissioners’ resolution said.
On Sept. 22 the Ferry County Commissioners also took official action on the wolf issue, by declaring a State of Emergency in the county, asserting that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has “deviated” from the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan by not removing problem wolf packs. They said the Emergency Declaration was needed because wolves pose “a threat to the health, safety and welfare of children, citizens, property, pets and livestock.” The Ferry County Commissioners have asked WDFW to remove the Profanity Peak wolf pack, located near Curlew, “immediately.”
These actions are incredibly encouraging according to Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Nielsen.
“After working on the wolf issue for two years and attempting to engage the Department of Fish and Wildlife on this issue by having dozens of meetings, sending letters, testifying before the Fish and Wildlife Commission, holding public meetings for WDFW to speak at and trying to work the channels they have available, we have experienced a total failure in public policy,” said Nielsen. “All of these efforts to get the state to abide by its own wolf plan and to implement lethal control or consider other options like translocation have been largely futile. The state is not serious about following the Wolf Conservation and Management plan and their inconsistency is going to put our family ranches out of business.”
SCCA asserts WDFW did not follow the wolf plan in either the 2012 depredation situation at the Diamond M ranch nor the 2014 depredation on the Dashiell ranch because the conditions for wolf removal were met, but not all of the problem wolves were removed. They also note that additional options for meeting wolf population objectives in the state, like translocation, were never pursued despite repeated requests. They also failed to provide non-lethal tools, like wolf collar data, to producers.
Nielsen said SCCA is looking forward to actions that may be taken by the counties, as they are more vested in the economic survival of the area.
“Our county commissioners live here, they are aware of the financial and community cost of these kinds of crises on our communities. We need people who are directly affected, who are vested in Eastern Washington and aren’t trying to manage from cubicles in Olympia,” said Nielsen. “Local wolf control is the only solution.”