Ranchers met with WDFW representatives in the Stevens County Commissionersâ hearing room last Thursday evening. In photo center is WDFWâs Steve Pozzanghera.
Because of the ongoing loss of cattle at the Diamond M ranch in Northeast Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has agreed to remove the âWedgeâ wolf pack they say has become âhabituatedâ to eating cattle.
According to the Stevens County Cattlemenâs Association, the Diamond M has experienced at least 18 wolf attacks on their herd since June, with 10 dead and eight injured calves.
In a public meeting last Thursday, WDFW Regional Director Steve Pozzanghera said that the behavior of the Wedge pack this summer is âunacceptableâ and that the pack has âturned a corner.â
âThis pack has turned the corner and has made cattle their primary prey,â said Pozzanghera. âThis pack needs to be removed.â
WDFW says itâs committed to removing entire pack
Pozzanghera said WDFW is committed to removing the entire Wedge wolf pack using trapping and shooting methods, including the use of night vision equipment. Aerial equipment may also be used in the eradication efforts.
âWe know wolf behavior is different in different situaÂŹtions,â Pozzanghera said. âNot all wolves habituate in eating livestock. Wolves have a different âsearch imageâ when looking for prey and that doesnât include cattle.
âBut the problems with this pack have escalated over the last several months and the situation is unacceptable. So we are committing additional resources and activities to the removal efforts.â
Would like to see ranchers & WDFW work together
However, the Diamond M owners, the McIrvins, and members of the Stevens County Cattlemenâs Association, are skeptical.
âThe department has changed the number of wolves they are going to remove all summer, so when they make this statement, they need to prove it. Success is not measured by efforts, but by results,â said Diamond M co-owner, Len McIrvin.
A press release posted to the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/sep2112a/)) reads that WDFW Director Phil Anderson said the plan has the support of key conservation interests and livestock operators. Two organizations that participated in developing the stateâs 2011 Wolf Conservation and ManÂŹagement Plan--Conservation Northwest and the Washington Cattlemenâs Association--joined the department in issuing a statement explaining their position.
Anderson said two WDFW teams are in the field with the goal of killing the members of the Wedge Pack, a group of at least eight wolves whose range includes a remote, roughly triangular area of northern Stevens County bordered by Canada and the Columbia and Kettle rivers.
Conservation Northwest Executive Director Mitch Friedman said, âAs difficult as this situation with the Wedge Pack is to accept on a personal level, we understand and agree that pack removal is the right action at this point.
âWe have been strong advocates for exhausting all non-lethal means possible to avoid this situation and are extremely disappointed that it has come to this.â
*Read the full story in the 9-26-12 hard copy edition of the S-E!