ENDANGERED SPECIES -- Two gray wolves in Ferry County have been killed by helicopter gunners after the Profanity Peak Pack was linked to killing livestock, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.
Staff has been in the field every day since Aug. 4 after agency Director Jim Unsworth authorized killing a portion of the pack as a last resort after failed attempts to deter the attacks. More wolves in the pack of about 11 animals are being targeted.
The cattle are on a Colville National Forest grazing allotment near Sherman Pass.
Gray wolves are protected by Washington state endangered species rules but allowances are made for removing wolves that can't be thwarted from attacking livestock.
Two adult female wolves were shot on Friday, Aug. 5, said Donny Martorello, department wolf program manager.
"One of the wolves was this year’s breeding female," he said. "We were not targeting the breeding pair in this pack, but there is no way to identify the breeding animals during a removal operation, so there is always a chance a breeding animal may be killed.
"Given the age of the pups, we know that they are weaned, so the removal of the breeding female is not likely to impact their survival. Typically, at this time of year, all of the remaining adults will provide food for the pups."
The agency has not disclosed how many wolves will be killed.
As lethal removal efforts continue, the Diamond M Ranch livestock producers are continuing efforts to prevent wolf attacks on their cattle by using range riders to monitor activity around the herds, Martorello said.
No wolf depredation reports have been received since the lethal removal operation began, he said.
The Fish and Wildlife Department is posting updates on the effort on its Profanity Peak Pack webpage.
This is the third time the state agency has approved lethal removal operations since wolves were confirmed making a comeback in the state more than a decade ago.