A Washington state gray wolf pack has been culled by sharpshooters, who used a GPS collar attached to the alpha male to track the pack in a helicopter.
The chase began on Thursday, where state wildlife officials used a helicopter to track down and kill the members of the Wedge Wolf Pack in northeast Washington State, reports Northwest Cable News.
After most, if not all, of his followers were killed, the sharpshooters took out the alpha male. State Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said that the decision to cull the gray wolf pack was the hardest decision he has made both professionally and personally. Anderson stated:
“Going out there and killing wildlife is not what this agency is all about.”
But Anderson believes he had no choice in the matter, a belief that experts and wildlife activists reluctantly shared. The pack was officially designated just three months ago, but quickly formed a habit of attacking livestock.
Experts advised that once wolves develop the habit of attacking livestock, it is nearly impossible to break, even if the wolf pack is relocated. The agency attempted to break the habit last month when they shot one adult member of the pack.
Unfortunately, the attacks on cattle continued, forcing the department to make the tough decision to cull the Wedge Wolf Pack. NBC News adds that Dave Ware, the department spokesman stated:
“The GPS collar on the alpha male enabled us to find the pack’s location fairly easily, although a few times the wolves were pretty inaccessible because of forest cover.”
Officials killed six wolves this week, including the alpha male and female. Because of this, if there are any survivors from the week’s shootings, they will likely not survive long, because of the deaths of the alphas.
Gray wolves used to freely roam Washington state, but they were driven close to extinction by settlers 100 years ago. So far in their reclamation efforts, seven wolf packs have been established in Washington and neighboring states, all of whom live without attacking cattle.
Officials expect that new wolves will move into the Wedge pack’s former area, because it has plenty of wildlife for them to hunt.