WDFW: Six dead wolves poisoned in Northeast Washington | local

WASHINGTON – Six wolves found dead in Stevens County last February were poisoned, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday.

“It’s unfortunate that someone took matters into their own hands,” said Scott Nielsen, president of the Kettle Falls Ranch and Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.

While ranchers in the area are extremely frustrated with WDFW’s inability to control wolf behavior, Nielsen doesn’t believe any of the ranchers he knows of would violate the rule of law by harming wolves to prevent depredations from occurring regularly.

“People in northeast Washington have no more social tolerance for the way WDFW manages these predators,” he said. “However, farmers continue to work with WDFW to change things, so I don’t see any of them taking that risk.”

As far as anyone knows, Nielsen said, wolf advocates are committing crimes to get more protections for the animals, which the state has long pushed for.

“You don’t like to think it could happen, but in this day and age it is possible,” he said.

According to him, it is possible that the resident of the district decided to take action after seeing the slaughter of local farmers every year.

“People here are fed up with the state not playing by their rules,” Nielsen said.

The agency is asking anyone with information about the poisonings to call the poaching hotline at 877-933-9847 or text 847411.

Eight conservation groups have joined together to offer a $51,100 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case. Penalties for illegally killing a wolf on the state’s endangered species list on the east side of the state carry up to $5,000 and/or a year in jail.

The organizations offering the award are: Center for Biological Diversity; Conservation Northwest; Defenders of wildlife; Kettle Range Conservation Group; Northwest Animal Rights Network; Sierra Club – Washington Chapter; Washington Wildlife First; and the Western Watersheds Project.

WDFW announced on Oct. 10 that toxicology reports indicated that wolves in the Wedge Pack area had died after ingesting the poison, but did not provide further information on the type of poison used on the animals.

The investigation began when four animals were found dead together in late February and expanded after two additional wolf carcasses were found within a month of searching the area, state officials said in a monthly report on wolf management activities.

On the other hand, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized the lethal removal of a wolf from the Leadpoint pack in response to repeated livestock depredations on the private grazing land of two Stevens County ranches.

Susewind said in an announcement about the hunt that the non-lethal barriers used by the farms failed to stop the attacks. The second hunt by members of the Leadpoint pack in the past month follows the Oct. 5 death of a cow on a 300-acre fully fenced pasture near the site of another rampage.

Since Aug. 22, WDFW has documented seven other injuries and deaths related to Leadpoint activities. On Sept. 21, WDFW killed two wolves from the pack to reduce attacks.

“The Leadpoint pack exhibited a pattern of wear on the cattle despite the use of non-lethal tools, including range walking, human presence, a RAG box and Fox lights,” an announcement on the second hunt on Oct. 9 said. “Prior to October 7, depredations were limited to one producer’s private pasture, but since then, despite high levels of riding activity and human presence, the herd has worn out in the neighboring pasture. Based on this assessment, WDFW staff believe depressions will continue.

Susewind said agency staff do not currently believe that removing another wolf would pose a risk to the species’ recovery.

A wolf from the Smackout pack is also euthanized for attacking cattle herds in Northeast Washington.

WDFW’s year-end minimum population count for 2021 was at least 206 known wolves in 33 known packs, including at least 19 breeding pairs. The largest concentrations of wolves are in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

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