The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) has reportedly decided, for the second time since the agency began aggressively managing wolves, that it will eradicate a wolf pack due to livestock predation, this one being dubbed the Profanity Peak pack.
Long story short: The pack is going to be shot, according to the Capital Press. Initially, a couple of females were killed by the agency and the effort was suspended two weeks ago. But then there were reports of more predation and the agency has decided to bring out the guns, again, this time to make an apparent clean sweep.
According to the Eugene Register-Guard, “Since mid-July, officials have confirmed that wolves have killed or injured six cattle and probably five others.”
This decision is almost certain to elicit some profanity from the “wolves at any cost” crowd, often referred to as “fur huggers,” as appeared in the reaction to a blog on the subject by Northwest Sportsman magazine editor Andy Walgamott.
Wolf management is a prickly subject among environmentalists, ranchers and hunters. For polarizing effect, it’s nearly as divisive as gun control versus Second Amendment rights, and it is an issue that reeks of environmental politics.
Wolves have been the reason for several lawsuits against state wildlife agencies. Many western hunters worry about predation on elk and deer herds, and they’re not terribly popular among ranchers.
One can quickly understand just how emotional the subject is by visiting two very different forums, Northwest Hikers and Hunting Washington. At the popular hiking forum, a thread started back in March 2008 headlined “Wolves Need Our Help Now” is now on its 247th page, and it has been at times rather fiery.
Over at the equally-popular hunting forum, there are 39 pages of different discussions on wolves that date back almost to the birth of that website.
Washington’s original goal was to have 15 breeding pairs of wolves confirmed and scattered around the state for at least three years. There are now 19 confirmed wolf packs.
If wolves were de-listed in Washington as they have been in Montana and Idaho, instead of state marksmen/hunters doing the control hunts, Evergreen State sportsmen could do that. One can look at how that’s worked in other states. Instead of a financial expenditure for the state game agency, tag sales have provided revenue.
That wolf packs have apparently expanded to their present level in such a short time demonstrates how prolific they can be.
This isn’t the first time the WDFW has gone after an entire wolf pack. A couple of years ago, livestock predation caused wildlife managers to target another pack in the rugged “Wedge” region of Ferry County bounded by the Kettle and Columbia rivers, and the Canadian border.
Some people romanticize about wolves, others think eradication is a swell idea. In between are people looking for a balance.