A Westside judge has issued a temporary restraining order that bars WDFW from beginning the lethal removal of one or more wolves from a pack that’s been depredating Ferry County cattle since last November.
The state agency had announced early this morning that it would start operations after 5 p.m. today, but two out-of-state animal rights groups went to Thurston County Superior Court to block it and Judge Chris Lanese granted it based on the suit meeting procedural criteria.
A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for late next week.
The Togo Pack has struck six times in the past 10 months, including three times in the last 30 days. In five of those cases, livestock producers had been using measures to prevent wolf-cattle conflicts, according to WDFW.
But the 71-page petition filed by Center for Biological Diversity of Arizona and Cascadia Wildlands calls WDFW’s plan “arbitrary and capricious” and alleges various environmental procedural errors.
The groups had sued last year over the Sherman Pack but earlier this year that lawsuit was dismissed as moot because the pack no longer existed.
However, WDFW agreed to give a notice of one business day notice before future lethal removals.
A 7:30 a.m. press release from the state this morning set the clock ticking.
The judge’s order is specific to Director Kelly Susewind’s kill authorization but does not impact local ranchers’ ability to shoot up to one wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock.
The Aug. 31 hearing will determine whether the temporary restraining order should be replaced with a longer one or not, according to WDFW.