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Wildlife Officials Rush to Gun Down Four More OPT Wolves Ahead of Court Order to Protect Them

A judge today temporarily blocked the killing of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) wolf family, but not before sharpshooters this morning gunned down four of the five remaining wolves.

Since July, wildlife officials killed eight members of the OPT wolf family in their effort to protect cows grazing on federal forest lands.

Although it came too late to protect the family, today a judge issued a temporary restraining order barring Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) from killing any more members of the OPT. The court decision is in response to a lawsuit that alleges that WDFW broke the law and the policies outlined by the state Wolf Advisory Group by reauthorizing a lethal removal order on the OPT pack in late July. The judge ruled that the cattle producers in the OPT area and WDFW didn’t “due diligence on non-lethal methods” according to the Spokesman Review.

While the sole surviving member of OPT wolf family is temporarily protected from WDFW’s sharpshooters, the wolf faces new threats. Without the strength of family, the lone wolf will be vulnerable to attack by neighboring wolves and to malnutrition as well.

Killing wolves is not the solution.

This year’s war on the OPT pack began in July, when the agency killed a radio-collared adult male, but only to have additional livestock attacks. Thus, in accordance with the agency’s controversial Wolf Plan and 2017 wolf-livestock interaction protocol, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind reauthorized staff to kill some more wolves, which they did.

On Tuesday, WDFW confirmed that agency staff gunned down three additional wolves from OPT family – an adult and two pups.

This region of the Kettle range has been the site of repeated wolf-livestock conflicts.  The OPT pack is the second wolf family to be obliterated by WDFW in the past three years.

The region’s rugged federal forest land is core wolf habitat; it’s rich with wildlife and draws animals like wolves in. Thus, killing off one wolf family only invites another to move in. It’s a vicious cycle in which nobody wins.

Moreover, killing these wolves is both cruel and ineffective. Peer-reviewed research demonstrates that employing lethal action to deter depredation on cows can even result in increased attacks.

Keeping cattle away from core wolf territories on public lands is the solution.

Which is worse: the fact that the WDFW slaughtered the wolf family to protect cows grazing on federal forest land, or that they killed the wolves knowing it wouldn’t solve the problem?

Either way, what was a family of nine last month, is just a solitary wolf today.