Wildlife culls are often highly controversial. However, Donny Martorello, who will head the operation, said the cull is necessary to prevent future attacks.
"... we said we would restart this operation if there was another wolf attack, and now we have three... The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves."
The Profanity Peak wolf pack is one of 19 known packs in Washington state and one of 16 known packs in the eastern portion of the state.
According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife conservation division, a majority of the packs, including the Beaver Creek, Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows, Huckleberry, Nc'icn, Salmo, Sherman, Skookum, Smackout, Stranger, Strawberry, Wedge, and Whitestone packs, share the north-eastern section with the Profanity Peak wolf pack.
— Kale Williams (@sfkale) August 23, 2016
The Tucannon pack is isolated in the south-eastern portion of Washington, and the Lookout, Loup Loup, and Tenaway packs are in the Northern Cascades.
Although North American gray wolves remain an endangered species in 44 states, their numbers have steadily increased in the last decade. Unfortunately, their resurgence has become a point of heated controversy, as they are often blamed for killing livestock.
As a result, many farmers have petitioned for the right to trap or kill "problem wolves" that are seen near or within livestock ranges. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to remove gray wolves from the list of endangered species.
In general, conservationists are against wildlife culls, especially when they involve endangered species. However, at least two conservation organizations have admitted the Profanity Peak wolf pack is out of control.
Earlier this year, the WDFW Wolf Advisory Group announced a threshold for culling problematic wolves and wolf packs. The Defenders of Wildlife and Conservation Northwest organizations both approved the threshold and agree that the Profanity Peak wolf pack has exceeded the parameters.
— Eurasianwolfie (@eurasianwolfie) August 21, 2016
In an official statement concerning the cull, Conservation Northwest said they "recognize that as wolf populations grow in Washington, under the state's Wolf Management Plan... animals that habitually prey on livestock may need to be removed."
In sharp contrast, other conservationists are blaming farmers for the attacks on their livestock.
Amaroq Weiss, with the Center for Biological Diversity, explained, "We can't keep placing wolves in harm's way by repeatedly dumping livestock onto public lands... then killing the wolves when conflicts arise. These allotments should be retired by the U.S. Forest Service — or livestock losses should simply be expected, and wolves shouldn't have to pay for it with their lives."
The culling of the Profanity Peak wolf pack is certain to remain a topic of heated debate. However, wildlife officials insist it is necessary to prevent attacks on local livestock.
[Image via David Dirga/Shutterstock]