Washington Fish and Wildlife early Thursday announced it intends to shoot wolves in the Wedge pack, while halting plans to kill wolves in the Togo pack.
The Wedge wolf pack in northeast Washington has attacked at least a dozen calves, killing two and injuring 10, since May 11.
Fish and Wildlife announced shortly before 8 a.m. that Director Kelly Susewind had authorized lethal control. The department’s policy calls for shooting one or two wolves initially and pausing to see the effect.
Susewind’s decision to cull the Wedge pack coincides with drawing back from searching for the Togo pack, also in northeast Washington.
Susewind authorized the department on June 19 to shoot up to two wolves in the Togo pack. The department says it tried, but was unsuccessful.
The Togo pack has a history of attacking cattle and has been targeted previously by Fish and Wildlife. The department, however, has not confirmed an attack on livestock by the pack since June 6, the only one in the past 10 months.
The Wedge pack occupies territory in Stevens County. The department killed seven Wedge pack wolves in 2012, the first time the state used lethal control since wolves began recolonizing Washington. Two pack members survived.
Two ranches have had calves killed or injured in the renewed attacks.
Fish and Wildlife says the producers have tried to prevent the depredations. The attacks are likely to continue unless some wolves are removed, according to the department.
The early morning notice gives wolf advocates one day to seek a court order blocking lethal removal. A Thurston County judge in 2018 extracted a promise from Fish and Wildlife to give the heads-up.
A broader decision from a King County Superior Court judge on whether Fish and Wildlife’s shooting of wolves is lawful is pending.
Wolf advocates suing Fish and Wildlife argue the department violated state law by enacting a lethal-control policy without considering the environmental consequences or taking public comments.
The department argues it has a broad mandate to control dangerous wildlife, and that it uses lethal control as a last resort to stop attacks on livestock and to retain public acceptance of wolves in northeast and southeast Washington.
Fish and Wildlife said Thursday that culling the Wedge pack will not prevent the number of wolves to continue to grow.