State announces plan to kill wolf pack after attacks on cattle

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State wildlife biologists received authorization to 'remove' a wolf pack in Ferry County after two calf carcasses and an injured calf were found in a grazing area , the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday.

"The injured calf was classified as the subject of a confirmed wolf attack and the dead calves as subjects of probable wolf attacks," the department said in a news release. "Since mid-July, WDFW has confirmed that wolves have killed or injured six cattle and probably five others, based on staff investigations."

WDFW Director Jim Unsworth authorized field staff to remove the remaining members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack to prevent additional attacks on cattle in the grazing lands between Republic and Kettle Falls.

State wildlife officials shot two pack members on Aug. 5, but announced an end to the hunting after two weeks passed without finding any more evidence of wolf attacks.

“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.”

Martorello noted that removing the entire Profanity Peak pack may prove challenging, given the rugged, timbered landscape in the area.

The Profanity Peak wolf pack is one of 19 known wolf packs in Washington state. Earlier this summer, WDFW determined that the pack had at least 11 members, including six adults and five pups.

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.