Wolves desensitized to human presence, WDFW ignores incident
A pack of wolves that have been the “poster children” for the effectiveness of non-lethal methods to deter wolves from livestock recently stalked a hunter near Smackout Road, forcing the hunter to shoot at the wolves in order to avoid being attacked. Most disturbingly, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife(WDFW) has suppressed the incident by not issuing a notice to the public about the danger of the Smackout wolf pack.
According to a written statement obtained by the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, the elk hunter said he was out along Smackout road on Oct. 30 when he heard something in the brush. Turning around, he saw a “black wolf skirting him” from about 15 yards away. The hunter yelled at the wolf and waved his arm to get it to leave, but the wolf “trotted out in front” of the hunter. The hunter shot in the air to try and scare it, but the wolf did not retreat and three other wolves started to close in around the hunter. The hunter backed up and then heard something coming at him. The hunter said he was “scared for his life.” As a wolf came at him, he shot at the wolf, hitting it in the shoulder. The wolf “was growling and biting its shoulder” and then went up the hill away from the man. The hunter, who has asked not to be named due to potential threats or harassment from environmental groups, said he then got on the radio to tell his hunting partners what going on and to “warn them about the pack of wolves on the ridge.” The hunter also gave the written statement to WDFW.
Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Nielsen said the Smackout Pack has been touted by groups like Conservation Northwest to be a “success story” about how non-lethal methods can be used to deter wolves from livestock. However, the efforts are having a troubling effect.
“What we are seeing is a group of wolves that are not afraid of people; are not afraid of guns and were willing to stalk a man who is alone in the woods,” said Nielsen. “These wolves have been totally desensitized to people by the same methods that the environmental groups are saying are effective for livestock operations. What we are creating here are killers that view people as possible prey. This is a serious threat to public safety.”
Even more concerning is the fact that WDFW made no efforts to alert the public as deer season was about to open in the Stevens County area. Late deer season in the Smackout wolf pack area ran from Nov. 8-19.
“Clearly the Department doesn’t want to acknowledge the human threat caused by these wolves and is willing to sit back until something terrible happens. That is unacceptable,” said Nielsen. “If WDFW is going to ignore public safety because their management has created the problem, we need to question their management. ”
SCCA is encouraging citizens to call in any wolf attacks or encounters to the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department by calling 684-5296.