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WA: Fish and Wildlife director authorizes ‘lethal action’ in southeast Washington wolf pack

The director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has ordered “incremental lethal action” against wolves from the Grouse Flats pack in southeast Washington in response to repeated killing of cattle.

Director Kelly Susewind issued the authorization this morning. Following an eight-hour required notification process (one business day), the department will begin killing wolves from the Grouse Flats pack, according to a news release from Fish and Wildlife. “Humane lethal removal methods” will be used, but the department didn’t provide detail in its release of what those methods will be.

Staci Lehma, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, said the plan is to start with limited action, meaning one to two wolves from the pack would be killed. The department would then “take a pause” to see if the action worked. If additional livestock killings by the Grouse Flats pack were to take place, additional “lethal action” would be taken against the wolves.

The Grouse Flats pack has been involved in two depredations of livestock in the last 30 days and four in approximately two months, according to the news release. Non-lethal deterrents by area livestock producers were used during that time, including:

* Using range riders to monitor the herd,

* Maintaining regular human presence in grazing areas,

* Removing sick and injured livestock from the grazing area until they are healed,

* Removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd,

* Calving away from areas occupied by wolves,

* Avoiding areas known for high wolf activity.

* Delaying the turnout of livestock onto grazing allotments until calving is finished and calves are typically at least 200 pounds.

“Despite proactive non-lethal efforts and deterrents by multiple producers affected, this pack has continued to prey on cattle,” Susewind said. “While not an easy decision, this step is part of mitigating wolf-livestock conflict if non-lethal measures cease to prevent incidences of wolves preying on livestock.”