The wolf is the 16th shot by the state in the Kettle River Range, according to a conservation organization. Wolves in the area have repeatedly attempted to prey on cattle there.
A Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) sharpshooter killed a young member of the Old Profanity Territory wolf pack, according to the agency.
The agency’s director, Kelly Susewind, last Wednesday approved an order to kill Old Profanity Territory wolves, after it was determined that they were responsible for recent injuries to livestock and the death of a calf in the Kettle River Range, an area notorious for conflicts between wolves and cattle. The state has killed 16 wolves there, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, a wildlife-advocacy group.
The young wolf that was killed weighed about 50 pounds. “Identifying adults and young wolves from the air is difficult this time of year due to the size of the animals,” WDFW said in an update on its website.
The agency also documented that an adult cow had been killed by wolves nearby. Officials think the cow was likely killed before the young wolf was shot.
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The killing comes amid legal challenges to the state’s wolf-livestock protocol. The Center for Biological Diversity is one of two conservation organizations suing WDFW, claiming the agency’s policy does not rely on the best science and should have gone through a more rigorous public process.
The protocols require ranchers to demonstrate they’ve used at least two nonlethal methods to stop wolves from preying on cattle before the agency will consider lethal action.
As ranchers, conservationists and wildlife managers work out what protects livestock best in Eastern Washington, scientists have been examining the issue worldwide.
An article published Tuesday in the PLOS Biology scientific journal examined top academic studies of the subject, concluding that most research shows using enclosures, livestock guardians and deterrents like fladry were effective tools to prevent predators’ attacks. Other nonlethal methods have not been studied widely enough to make conclusions, said Jennie Miller, a Senior Scientist for the Defenders of Wildlife and one of the study’s lead authors. Lethal removal showed inconsistent results. In some studies, it was beneficial, and in others it was counterproductive, Miller said. “It’s used prolifically, but actually there have been mixed reviews.”
Miller said more high-quality academic research about methods of protecting livestock from predators was needed.
“Millions of dollars across the world are being spent on management interventions. The stakes are high. It’s worth understanding if your approach is going to be effective,” Miller said. “We are calling for more science. Even before that, we’re calling for a coalition of scientists to get together to establish protocols to make this research better.”