Taking the three-strikes-the-whole-team’s-out approach, a Northeast Washington county is calling on the state to remove a new wolf pack in the wake of a trio of confirmed cattle depredations earlier this month.
It’s the latest salvo from politicians and ranchers in this part of the state with 11 known packs, including three that have killed over 24 sheep and a dozen and a half calves and cows since summer 2012.
“The Ferry County Board of Commissioners request that the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the Governor of the State of Washington take every step necessary to remove the Profanity Peak Wolf Pack immediately,” reads a resolution signed by Mike Blankenship, Brad Miller and Brian Dansel, who is also the local state senator.
A TRAIL CAM SHOT CAPTURED A MEMBER OF THE PROFANITY PEAK PACK. (WDFW)
The wording was discussed during a meeting this past Monday in Republic. While following Stevens County’s lead of passing resolutions about WDFW’s “failed” wolf management and constitutional rights, Ferry County commissioners purposefully kept theirs “sweet and simple.”
“Hey, we’ve got a problem here, guys, let’s fix it,” said one in describing the tone of the message being sent to Olympia.
They claim that WDFW is “deviating” from its wolf management plan in Northeast Washington because it isn’t removing packs after depredations.
Maybe so, but the agency’s Lethal Removal Protocols lay out a series of events that lead to incremental removals.
“WE ARE NOW ON THE FLOW CHART,” SAYS WDFW’S WOLF MANAGER.
There must be at least four separate depredation incidents — anything from a single wounded calf to a pile of 12 dead sheep can count as just one event — and nonlethal measures must be in place beforehand and during the events before shooting wolves is even considered.
In the case of the Huckleberry-sheep situation, WDFW gave the go-ahead to the herder and state staff to take out up to two wolves approaching the flock after the fourth confirmed depredation, and then following the fifth, deployed the chopper. Five more dead and four injured sheep turned up before one wolf was killed.
WDFW’s wolf braintrust is in a big meeting with the rest of the state’s Canis-obsessed crew today, but by my unofficial score, I’d say the state won’t be sending up the Wildlife Services gunner on a Profanity hunt before Diamond M’s preventative tactics are clarified and at least a couple more confirmed depredations occur.
Ferry County commissioners worry about where the pack will go as the McIrvins bring their cattle out of those hills, but their real concern is probably, what happens should the longtime local ranching family pull their operation out of the region?
One of the area’s economic lifebloods, the importance of ranching was noted by WDFW director Phil Anderson recently.
“The livestock industry is huge to the employment of Ferry County, Stevens County, Okanogan County, Pend Oreille County, those areas up there, and I don’t mean to miss other areas where it is as well,” he said during an interview on TVW last week.
He said that in practically the same breath as the one in which he also worried that the relationships needed to keep wolf recovery, outdoors lifestyles and rural economies all viable are beginning to fray.
They’re being purposefully torn by some of the participants, including even the more moderate wolf groups who howled about the “catastrophic” loss of the Huckleberry female — that earned a surprisingly strong response from Anderson and WDFW — and the northeastern corner.
“Local wolf control is the only solution,” claimed Scott Nielsen of the neighboring Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association in a press release out today.
They’re calling on the state’s help now, but during Monday’s meeting, one Ferry County commissioner said, “This is phase 1. If we don’t get a favorable response and we get no action down the road, we’re going to have to go one step further.”
The Profanity Pack consists of three adults and three pups that live in remote, thickly wooded country at the north end of the Kettle Crest and nearby valleys. It’s possible they were the unconfirmed Boulder Creek Pack that was on WDFW’s wolf map in recent years, though a state wolf worker suspects that those might have just been Wedge Pack on a walkabout. They were discovered earlier this summer after a dead pup was reported. Trail cams were set up at the scene, and those recorded the adults and pups. The killing of a cow and a calf led to WDFW to announce the pack.