The shooting near Danville in northeastern Washington’s Ferry County came just a couple of days after a Thurston County judge gave the go-ahead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to kill the animal.
A Washington state wildlife marksman fatally shot a member of the Togo wolf pack from a helicopter Sunday, bringing to an end a saga that had illustrated the tensions between ranchers, conservation groups and the state.
The shooting near Danville in northeastern Washington’s Ferry County came just a couple of days after a Thurston County judge gave the go-ahead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to kill the animal, which was wearing a radio collar for tracking. WDFW officials said they had hunted the wolf on foot Friday evening and Saturday but weren’t able to find it.
The case is just the latest chapter in the state’s contentious management of wolves, which have grown in numbers over the past decade to about 120 today. The ranching industry has worried the state would not be able to kill wolves that have eaten cattle, while conservation groups have argued that decisions to kill wolves have not been based on the best science.
State wildlife officials have determined that the Togo pack targeted cattle at least six times in the past 10 months, killing calves and a cow. With three incidents in a 30-day period, the state contends it was allowed to approve lethal action under its 2011 wolf-conservation plan and its 2017 wolf-livestock protocols.
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A rancher reported shooting at the wolf a few days later, saying it was in self-defense while checking on his cattle, according to WDFW. Specialists later located the wolf and reported that its leg appeared to be broken. Officials said Sunday the dead wolf’s left rear leg had been injured.
Amaroq Weiss, a wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the killing could trigger more wolf-livestock conflicts, as the female wolf left in the Togo pack may seek out livestock as easier prey in order to sustain the rest of the pack.
“The death of this wolf is senseless and tragic,” Weiss said.
Weiss said the center is proceeding with its lawsuit that argues the state is improperly issuing kill orders.