Court battles, injured and dead calves, prowolf tweetstorms, kill orders, die-ins, rallies, increasingly angry ranchers — ahh, the joys of Washington’s wolves circa 2018 …
A hearing will be held Friday morning after wolf advocates today filed another motion to block WDFW from going after livestock-attacking cattle in Northeast Washington.
Details are sketchy at this hour (7 p.m.), but a number of papers from numerous organizations and individuals were introduced in Thurston County Superior Court where last month one judge granted a temporary restraining order against an agency lethal removal authorization.
Two weeks later another judge dismissed it and afterwards WDFW took out the male wolf of the Togo Pack for a series of cattle depredations stretching back to last November and in hopes of stopping the attacks.
But since then members have injured another calf, the seventh documented attack by the northern Ferry County wolves.
However, things appear to be at a stalemate in terms of WDFW lethal management options with that pack.
“In the current situation, there is no clear path for removing the remaining adult female in the pack to address the repeated depredations without the risk of orphaning the pups,” WDFW said in a late-afternoon statement. “The department will continue to evaluate the situation, and will continue to work with the producer to implement non-lethal deterrents.”
OLD PROFANITY TERRITORY PACK
Not too far to the south another pack is under WDFW’s gun for a rapid-fire series of depredations earlier this month.
Yesterday, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized lethally removing one or two members of this newly named pack in the northern half of Ferry County after it injured or killed six calves in less than a week.
During this latest window, the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands appear to have made a second motion for temporary relief and tomorrow at 9 a.m. Superior Court Judge Carol Henry will hold a hearing on the matter.
State sharpshooters will be familiar with the OPT wolves’ ground, having had to kill seven members of the Profanity Peak Pack and one from the Sherman Pack in 2016 and 2017 for livestock depredations those years.
Meanwhile, for the past few days wolf advocates have been tweeting out form messages with hashtags like #stoptheslaughter at WDFW as well as trying to catch the attention of Governor Jay Inslee.
And tomorrow protesters will stage a “die-in” in Olympia at noon — after court — “to protest the state’s ongoing killing of endangered wolves.”
Wolves in Washington are state-listed as endangered but the Togo and Old Profanity Territory Packs and others in the eastern third were federally delisted in 2011.
The event is sure to get lots of play from TV stations and newspapers.
More pragmatic groups say that Kettle Range wolf problems three years in a row are a sign that lethal removals, conflict-prevention measures and cattle grazing strategies all need to be reconsidered to improve the outcome.
Yet while publicly stating they’re not supporting WDFW killing wolves this go-around, they are vowing to roll up their sleeves to work on solutions in the field.
“We are also not participating in the protest planned in Olympia, instead focusing on providing continued staff and range rider support on-the-ground in Northeast Washington in the interest of reducing further depredation,” said Conservation Northwest spokesman Chase Gunnell.
Fellow staffer Jay Shepherd, who cofounded the Northeast Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “One thing I know is that they (ranchers) want a long-term sustainable solution, too. They don’t want this. They want this to stop. Because, no pun intended, they’re bleeding money.”
That language — working with ranchers — will play far better with them than any lawsuits or protests or tweetstorms ever will.
But driving the ranchers off the grazing allotments is the other groups’ goal. That and milking the drama that is wolf recolonization in Washington for everything it’s worth.