Department of Fish and Wildlife Officials Have Killed 18 Wolves in the Colville National Forest on Behalf of a Single Rancher
KING COUNTY — This morning, two Washington residents, with the support of the Center for a Humane Economy, filed a legal action in Washington Superior Court in King County to stop Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel from killing wolves in the Old Profanity Territory Pack in the Colville National Forest. The state killed one pack member on July 13th, killed two more in 2018, and previously wiped out the Profanity Peak and Sherman packs in the same area. The plaintiffs are represented by Jonathon Bashford, and the case was filed in Superior Court in Seattle.
After several wolf attacks on cattle – who have been repeatedly situated by the Diamond M Ranch in prime wolf habitat – the state yesterday authorized the killing of wolves from the already diminished OPT pack. To conduct the control actions, the state generally uses the radio telemetry signals from collared wolves, chases them by helicopter into a clearing, and then shoots them. Often the wolves are only injured by the aerial gunner and then the wolves must be tracked on the ground and shot and finally killed.
Complaints from Len and Bill McIrvin and other members of the family that run the Diamond M Ranch have triggered more than 80 percent of the state’s wolf killing. The family has refused government payments to compensate them for lost cattle, and has demanded more wolf killing.
“How many wolves will the state kill to satisfy the unreasonable demands of a single ranching family who place cattle on habitat that is unsuitable for cattle but ideal for wolves?” asked Wayne Pacelle with the Center for a Humane Economy. “It’s time to stop appeasing the McIrvins and demand that the Diamond M Ranch not court these human-wildlife conflicts.”
Robert Wielgus, a former Washington State University wildlife biologist who has studied wolves and other predators in eastern Washington, has pointed out that livestock losses to wolves were one-third of one percent (0.003) in wolf-occupied areas of Washington, except when it comes to the ranching operations of Len McIrvin, who has suffered more than 10 times the losses of other ranchers in wolf-occupied territory. McIrvin and his Diamond M Ranch have excluded range riders in recent weeks, making clear that their intend is to kill wolves, not save cattle.
“My research shows that non-lethal controls, such as keeping livestock and salt blocks one kilometer away from wolf denning and rendezvous areas, are very effective in deterring rare wolf attacks on livestock,” added Wielgus. His research has revealed that non-lethal methods are generally far more effective in deterring the rare number of attacks on livestock and that depredation killing of wolves may also disrupt existing social relationships and spur continued depredations on livestock, as has been continually observed on McIrvin’s public grazing allotments.
The Center for a Humane Economy has taken a series of paid advertisements in recent days to draw attention to the needlessly provocative actions of the McIrvin family and to urge the state to stop the wolf killing in favor of non-lethal management and more strategic public-land grazing.
Wolves are slowly reclaiming small portions of their original range in Washington, living in more than 25 packs throughout the state’s eastern expanse. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials estimate there are perhaps as few 125 wolves in the state.