SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday that an adult male wolf was killed in Columbia County, drawing criticism from wildlife advocates who contend endangered wolves should not be slain for preying on livestock.
The wolf was killed last Thursday in an area of new wolf-pack activity in the southeast corner of the state, the department said in a statement. The department is authorized until Dec. 10 to kill another wolf from this newly formed pack.
The department said it believes there are four adults and four pups in this new pack that have been preying on cattle since August despite precautions taken by ranchers — including hiring range riders, regular cattle checks, lighting up pastures, removing carcasses of dead cattle and making noise to keep wolves away from pastures.
Wildlife activists decried the killing of the wolf.
"Normally we’d be celebrating the formation of a new wolf pack in Washington. But I’m saddened that the Department of Fish and Wildlife killed a wolf and has authorized killing another from the same family,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Zoë Hanley, northwest representative with Defenders of Wildlife, said her group is "saddened the state resorted to killing one of these newly discovered wolves.”
She added: “It is not necessary to kill wolves to stop depredations.”
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has documented five wolf deaths in the state since Jan. 1. In previous years and 12 to 21 mortalities per year and said that the wolf population has continued to grow and expand its range.
Wolves were killed off in Washington by the 1930s, but returned to the state early in this century from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia. There have been numerous conflicts with ranchers since then. Most of the estimated 178 wolves in the state live in eastern Washington.
Wolves are protected as an endangered species under state law, although the state has killed 34 wolves over the past eight years for preying on cattle.