State wildlife officials are reiterating that a Northeast Washington man who felt threatened by a pack of wolves had every right to take lethal action earlier this month.
The incident was first reported yesterday by the Colville Statesman-Examiner, which states that the local resident had been checking trail cameras in the vicinity of Rocky Creek Road, about 20 miles northeast of Colville, the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 7, when he was “essentially surrounded,” according to Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke.
The paper writes that “multiple wolves” were both in front of and, as he started to retreat, behind the man.
“When he yelled at them, one or more of the wolves bared their teeth and they did not move,” Manke told the paper.
Armed with a gun, he shot one wolf, backing the pack off and giving him a chance to make an escape and immediately call county and state officials, who both quickly investigated.
“This gentleman felt his safety was threatened, so was within his rights to fire on one of the wolves,” said Staci Lehman, WDFW spokeswoman in Spokane, earlier today. “We did have one of our sergeants respond to the scene as soon as it was reported and concluded the gentleman didn’t do anything wrong.”
The young male wolf is believed to be a member of the Smackout Pack. It’s believed there were two or three adults and eight pups this spring, and those numbers are similar to what the man reported, Lehman said.
The identity of the shooter was being kept confidential “to avoid making him a potential target for retaliation from wolf advocates,” the Statesman Examiner wrote.
This is the third wolf to die in recent months. A Carpenter Ridge Pack male died in September, likely due to natural causes, per WDFW, while unknown human causes were believed to be behind the death of a collared Beaver Creek Pack.
Washingtonians are having more and more encounters with wolves as their population builds across the northern tier and southeastern corner of the state.
A few have been killed after exhibiting what was perceived to be threatening behavior, either towards individuals or livestock.
Besides carrying a gun, Lehman noted that bear spray can be just as effective at deterring danger.
“You don’t have to be a good aim, you won’t kill anyone or an animal if you don’t hit your target and some people just aren’t comfortable carrying a firearm,” she noted.