OLYMPIA, Wash.– A protest against the killing of the Profanity Peak wolf pack in eastern Washington by state wildlife officials was held today on the steps of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) headquarters in Olympia, Washington.
Almost a hundred people from around the Pacific Northwest came out to urge wildlife officials to stop killing wolves, and for consumers to not to eat meat or boycott Washington beef altogether. The protest was held by Predators Defense and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Paul Ruprecht from Portland, Ore. shared his views with the crowd. “The Forest Service should require ranchers to remove their cows the first time there are conflicts with wolves – not allow the cows to keep grazing so there are more conflicts. We need to put the responsibility of protecting livestock on the rancher, not on wolves.”
We should be pushing for grazing permit retirement on allotments like some of those in Kettle Creek as a long-term solution to these ongoing conflicts between livestock and wildlife,” he said.
The Profanity Peak wolf pack, originally numbering eleven wolves at the beginning of summer, became the target of ranchers and wildlife officials in early August after they killed cattle belonging to Len McIrvin of Laurier, WA. McIrvin leases grazing rights in the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington.
The Diamond M Ranch which belong to three male partners in the McIrvin family, was the same producer responsible for the almost near extermination of the Wedge pack in 2014 after they complained of cattle being killed by wolves near the same area.
Only three wolves remain in that pack, none of whom are a breeding pair according a website called Pacific Wolf Family.
Despite several attempts by Animal News Northwest, officials from the WDFW could not be reached for comment.
Justin Hedrick, co-owner of the Diamond M Ranch, appeared in an article in the Capital Press today to offer their views. On the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association website, where Hedrick serves as president, he says, “The 2014 losses and the addition of at least three more killed calves this year is a significant loss to the ranch, with each loss calf costing at least $1,500 in potential revenue.” He adds, “This is a chronically depredating pack that needs to be removed.”
Wildlife officials resumed killing the Profanity Peak wolf pack on August 19, using helicopters, traps, and hunters after several more cattle were found deceased. At least one of the wolves is wearing a radio collar. According to media reports in the last update from WDFW on Friday August 26th officials said six of the eleven wolves in the pack had been killed.
“A lot of times they’ll chase an animal to death,” says Brooks Fahy of the advocacy group Predator Defense in an earlier interview. Fahy described aerial gunners using shotguns and getting real close. “It’s as gruesome as you can imagine.”
Earlier reports claiming the McIrvin’s set their cattle purposely on the wolves’ den were disputed by Washington State University and the WDFW.
Yesterday an impassioned plea for understanding came from Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest who says, “For the last decade, nobody has been more invested in wolf recovery in Washington than Conservation Northwest. We’re doing everything we possibly can to facilitate peaceful coexistence between wolves and ranchers.”
Nevertheless for the protesters the answer is simple. “Keep livestock off the public land,” they shouted.
“I don’t believe there is any gray area on this,” said Brooks Fahy from Predator Defense. “The wolves are exactly where they need to be. The cows need to be relocated.”