The Profanity Peak wolf pack has been sentenced to extermination after resuming attacks on cattle this week, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced Friday.
State wildlife biologists received authorization to remove the Ferry County wolf pack after investigating two calf carcasses and an injured calf in a Colville National Forest grazing area.
The injured calf was classified as the subject of a confirmed wolf attack and the dead calves as subjects of probable wolf attacks, the agency said in a release. Since mid-July, WDFW has confirmed that wolves have killed or injured six cattle and probably five others, based on staff investigations.
Jim Unsworth, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, authorized field staff to remove the remaining members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack to prevent additional attacks on cattle in the range lands between Republic and Kettle Falls.
The Profanity Peak pack is one of 19 known wolf packs in Washington. Earlier this summer, WDFW determined that the pack had at least 11 members, including six adults and five pups.
Initially the operation was authorized to kill just a portion of the pack in hopes that would be enough to reduce the number of mouths to feed and deter further attacks. Some northeastern Washington officials and representatives criticized the state for not declaring exactly how many wolves would be killed.
State wildlife officials shot two pack females, including the breeding female from a helicopter on Aug. 5, but announced an end to wolf-removal efforts after two weeks passed without finding any more evidence of wolf predation on cattle.
“At that time, we said we would restart this operation if there was another wolf attack, and now we have three,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy lead. “The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves.”
However, removing the entire Profanity Peak pack may prove challenging, given the rugged, timbered landscape in the area, Martorello said.
Earlier Friday, Ferry County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Sheriff Ray Maycumber to kill the remaining nine members of the wolf pack if state wildlife officials don’t resume shooting wolves.
Commissioner Mike Blankenship said he was willing to challenge state endangered species protections and jurisdiction over wildlife.
“That pack of wolves needs to be gone,” he told the Capital Press. “I feel the sheriff has that power and that obligation as much as he would with a wild dog out there.”
County officials have pressed the department to eliminate the entire pack since 2014, citing concerns for humans, pets and livestock.
“Maybe that would get challenged and maybe we need to have conversation. I’m sure it would be a fairly mind-blowing case,” Blankenship said.
Since 2008, the state’s confirmed wolf population has grown from two wolves in one pack to at least 90 wolves and 19 packs by early 2016.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.