A Few Details On Cost Of Profanity Peak Removal Operation Surface

Dribs and drabs of information on WDFW’s lethal removal of most of the Profanity Peak Pack are beginning to come out, providing an eyebrow-raising yet incomplete and somewhat factually challenged story on the cost of the operation in northern Ferry County.

Responding to a bevy of public disclosure requests from private individuals and groups, the agency has released several existing documents, one of which tallied the cost of dealing with the livestock-depredating pack as $119,577.92 through late last week.

A TRAIL CAM SHOT CAPTURED A MEMBER OF THE PROFANITY PEAK PACK. (WDFW)

A TRAIL CAM SHOT CAPTURED A MEMBER OF THE PROFANITY PEAK PACK IN 2014. IN 2016, THE PACK OF 12 OR SO WOLVES WAS BLAMED FOR 15 CONFIRMED AND PROBABLE CATTLE DEPREDATIONS ON 15 CALVES AND COWS. (WDFW)

But wolf manager Donny Martorello cautions that that is not a full accounting, as some invoices have to yet to arrive, and that much better details on the August-October undertaking will be available in the coming weeks when a comprehensive review is completed.

“What you’re seeing here is largely the cost of helicopter vendors and our staff time,” said Martorello late this morning.

The largest single item is $73,440 for “Other Contractual Services” followed by $28,277.07 for “State classified.”

WDFW killed seven of the 12 wolves blamed for 15 confirmed and suspected attacks on 15 calves and cows roaming grazing allotments in the Colville National Forest north of Sherman Pass. An eighth wolf is believed to have died of natural causes.

The depredations began in mid-July and following protocols agreed to by the agency, wolf advocates, ranchers, hunters and others, after a fourth confirmed attack, WDFW sharpshooters took to the air and killed two wolves.

Depredations halted for awhile, but began again in mid-August and WDFW Director Jim Unsworth authorized removing up to the entire pack.

Operations continued mid-October and then were suspended pending another attack.

The running cost document was posted last Thursday by a pro-wolf website which claimed the source of the money was “taxpayer dollars,” but that is not accurate, according to Martorello.

He said that funding for lethal removals comes from WDFW’s Wildlife State account, which includes revenue from license sales, but no taxpayer dollars.

“Not from personalized plates, not from Pittman-Robertson, not from the General Fund,” Martorello added.

The group that posted the document used it to call for a termination of federal grazing allotments “not only for the sake of our wildlife, But of our taxpayer Dollars. We will be posting the Entire costs that Ranchers have cost you in Washington State this evening as well. It is going to be truly a Large number that will sicken everyone.”

Martorello says that the final report on the Profanity Peak operation will include a complete breakdown of costs, as well as recommendations from the region to the director, and that that should be available in the next month or so.

“We want to absolutely provide that, but it will take time,” he says.

By comparison, lethal and nonlethal work during the removal of one Huckleberry Pack wolf in 2014 cost $55,000, while the Wedge Pack operation cost at least $76,500.

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