Washington Wolf Pack Murdered

Carmen Iben, Global Animal

A pack of six gray wolves were shot and killed last week after Washington wildlife officials determined that termination was the only solution to save their cattle. In the last few months, it had become clear that this particular pack was preying on the forest’s livestock. Various attempts were made to stop the wolves, none of which were successful. The director of Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife, Phil Anderson, noted that his agency did everything in their power to first avoid killing the wildlife.

A tracker is put on the alpha wolf, who later leads his pack to its demise. Photo Credit: KTVB

The chair of the Washington State Senate committee that oversees The Department of Fish and Wildlife had harsh words in response to the killings, though, calling the decision a “serious failure,” according to KTVB.

The wolves were gunned down by sharpshooters from a helicopter after a GPS collar was placed on the alpha male in order to track the pack’s trail.

The pack had killed an estimated 17 calves roaming on public lands. While this number is certainly high, authorities are wondering if more could have been done to stop the wolves before making such a critical decision to end their lives. The department, however, stands by their belief that the pack had become so accustomed to eating cattle, they would not have stopped hunting the calves under practically any circumstance.

A first wolf was killed in early August in an attempt to break the pack’s natural inclination to eat cattle. But animal activists can’t help but wonder why a more effective strategy wasn’t carried out before the wolves became habituated to such a diet.

“Ultimately, it became clear that this pack was preying on livestock as its primary food source, and that our actions had not changed that pattern,” Anderson said in a statement Thursday.

Anderson hopes that the elimination of this pack will leave the livestock unharmed, and assures the public that his department will refocus their attention on finding alternate, non-lethal ways to saving farm animals.  

“Killing the species off again. It’s just barbaric. It just shows we are still set back in the early 1900s,” said wolf advocate Shelley Black, who raises wolves and runs Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre near Golden, B.C.

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