Washington State Officials Reissue Kill Order for State Endangered Wolves to Protect Cows
On Friday, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind reissued a lethal removal order for the Togo wolf family in response to depredation of cattle on grazing lands in the Kettle River range of Ferry County. The order allows for the killing of up to two state-endangered wolves.
This isn’t the first time WDFW has targeted the Togo pack, or the state’s wolf population in general. Sharpshooters killed the breeding male of the Togo pack in 2018, leaving behind his mate and two pups, and again attempted to destroy the entire family (of just two wolves) in the fall of 2019.
The state has obliterated several wolf packs over the years, starting with the Wedge Pack in 2012, and has caused countless packs to fragment as a result of targeting individual wolves. All of these kill orders were issued with the same goal: stop livestock depredation. Yet science shows that killing a wolf can increase the risk that wolves will prey on livestock in the future. It is counterproductive and unsustainable.
This latest removal order further illustrates WDFW’s willingness to prioritize private industry over the state’s wildlife. The Togo territory is largely comprised of the Colville National Forest – public lands – and livestock owners lease permits to graze their cattle on these allotments. By WDFW’s own admission, ongoing depredations have occurred in the Togo pack territory and they expect depredations will continue based on the area’s history. This history of depredation despite numerous killings of wolves begs several questions:
- Why are Washington state and the U.S. Forest Service still allowing livestock owners to graze their cattle on public lands?
- Why are WDFW officials continuing to ignore peer-reviewed science that indicates lethal control of wolves only exacerbates livestock conflict, especially when they’re presented with three years of evidence in their own state?
- Should Washington continue to kill state-endangered wolves to benefit the profit margins of a private business?
Please contact WDFW Director Kelly Susewind before it’s too late and respectfully ask him to call off the kill order.