Updated 4:30 p.m., Aug. 16, 2019 with news at bottom on the depredations of a nearby pack.
Hardcore wolf advocates won something of a pyrrhic victory in a King County court this morning.
A judge granted a temporary restraining order that bars WDFW from taking out any more Old Profanity Territory wolves, but with four killed this morning, there’s only one left out of the chronically depredating northern Ferry County pack.
That means lethal removal operations are now on pause.
The news was first mentioned on Western Wildlife Conservation’s Facebook page.
“We won but we lost!!” the group posted.
Earlier this month “two Washington residents” represented by Seattle attorney Johnathon Bashford and “with the support” of Wayne Pacelle’s Center for a Humane Economy filed a petition in King County Superior Court to halt the removals.
That was initially decided in WDFW’s favor with the parties ordered to return today to court for a status report update.
That appears to have been decided in advocates’ favor.
“We’ll have to go back to court for a trial that we don’t have a date for,” said spokeswoman Staci Lehman in Spokane.
She said that two of the four wolves taken out in this morning’s remarkably efficient operations were also collared animals, while two were not.
In an update earlier this week, WDFW said that it had removed an adult and two juveniles since Aug. 6, and before that it had taken out the breeding male in an attempt to change the pack’s behavior.
There were at least nine members when the pack began again attacking livestock grazing on federal allotments on the Colville National Forest near Republic.
The OPTs are now blamed for 29 cow and calf attacks since last September, nine in the past 30 days.
“Having to carry out lethal removals of wolves is a difficult situation and something the Department takes very seriously. WDFW makes every effort to make a responsible decision after considering the available evidence,” the state agency said in a statement. “We appreciate the time the court put into reviewing this material and will work with the court throughout the process ahead.”
Western Wildlife Conservation is stating that with the judge’s order that WDFW can’t remove wolves from other packs such as the Togos, which are under the gun for a series of depredations, but Lehman says that that is not her understanding that the judge’s order pertained strictly to the OPTs.
The area has been the scene of past livestock attacks, most notably in 2016.
Groups outside the mainstream have been trying to impact how wolves are managed in Washington.
Last year it was the Center for Biological Diversity of Arizona and Cascadia Wildlands of Oregon with the Togo Pack.
Now it’s Pacelle’s new Maryland-based organization, which put out word yesterday on today’s court hearing.
Earlier this summer they also spread news that a full-page ad had been taken out in The Seattle Times as well as reintroduced Rob Wielgus into the fray, he of the 2016’s incendiary comments about the Diamond M and where they allegedly turned their cows out — and which led to a sharp rebuke from the university where he worked at the time.
CHE did not immediately respond to a request to identify the Washington residents involved in the suit. Instead, they focused on blaming the Diamond M for “baiting wolves.”
Meanwhile, more pragmatic wolf fans are highlighting how they are working with ranchers to reduce livestock conflicts.
And late this afternoon, WDFW reported that the nearby Togo Pack was responsible for injuring two calves and killing another.
They were reported last Sunday, Aug. 11, and investigations determined that the dead calf had been killed just hours before, while the wounds to the others likely occurred three to seven days prior to their discovery.
WDFW says their owner “removes or secures livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, calves away from areas occupied by wolves, avoids known wolf high activity areas, and monitors the herd with a range rider. A WDFW-contracted range rider has been working with this producer since May.”
It raises the Togo’s depredation tally to six in the past 30 days and 14 in the past 10 months. Thresholds for considering lethal action is three in 30 and four in 10.
On. Aug. 9 WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized the removal of the entire pack, but according to the update, none have been but the removal period is ongoing.