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Washington Officials Issue Kill Order for Two Wolves to Protect Cows

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Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind issued a lethal removal order for the Togo wolf family in response to depredation of cattle on grazing lands in Ferry County. The order allows for the killing of up to two state-endangered wolves.

WDFW officials claim that killing of up to two wolves won’t impact the overall growth of state’s wolf population, because mortality rates range between 12-21 each year. Science tells us, however, that killing wolves has devastating impacts on wolf families as they lose their parents, pups, and valued packmates.

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. Kill orders were again issued for the family in 2020.

But how many wolves need to die before officials realize that wolves aren’t the problem?

Killing Wolves Doesn’t Solve Problems

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. Why are Washington state and the U.S. Forest Service still allowing livestock owners to graze their cattle on public lands?

Most importantly, 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?

Something’s rotten in the state of Washington. And it smells like cow.