Wolf, © James Brandenburg / National Geographic Stock

Bad To Worse For Washington’s Wedge Pack

It didn’t have to be like this. On Friday, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced its plans to remove the entire Wedge Pack, and we found out yesterday that at least two had already been killed.

The state’s decision to take out up to eight wolves came on the heels of continued reports of cattle losses blamed on the Wedge Pack—some fairly, others not. We don’t fully understand the basis for this decision since some of our questions still haven’t been answered, but the state is moving forward nevertheless.

While we continue to support the state’s wolf management plan when properly implemented, it’s disappointing to see this pack being targeted unnecessarily. If the state had taken swift action after the first depredation reports to deter further attacks, this whole situation might have been avoided. This is the reason that we fought so hard to include nonlethal conflict management provisions in the plan, and it’s the reason we asked state officials last month not to pursue lethal removal of the pack.

Our bigger concern, however, is that we’re likely to see the same scenario play out in the future unless proactive steps are taken to prevent conflict before it happens. What will happen next year if a new pack moves in and unguarded cattle are still grazing in the area? From decades of work in the Northern Rockies, we have learned that lethal control alone doesn’t resolve these conflicts—it only perpetuates the loss of more livestock and more wolves.

example of fladry

Setting up electrified flagging, known as “turbofladry,” is just one of many nonlethal tools that can help prevent conflict between livestock and wolves.

While the state claims to have exhausted all their options, the root cause has still not been addressed. We have made numerous offers to the state to assist with implementing nonlethal deterrents and better animal husbandry practices. The state has used our equipment such as turbofladry in other areas, but it remains unclear what nonlethal measures, if any, were used with the Wedge pack.

Unfortunately, we do not have control over the fate of this pack, and it’s too late now to save them. But we stand ready to partner with the state and local ranchers to help make sure the Wedge Pack doesn’t die in vain. This is an important lesson for us all about the value of working together in advance to prevent conflict. In order to coexist over the long run, we need the willing participation of all stakeholders—state wildlife managers, national forest managers, ranchers and the conservation community. That’s the best and only way to ensure a future for wolves in Washington.

What You Can Do

Next Friday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is hosting a public meeting in Olympia.  Part of this meeting will be used to address the department’s handling of the Wedge pack situation.  If you are able to attend this meeting, please plan to be there.  Those arriving in time to register will have three minutes to express their concerns to the commission.  Click here to see meeting details.

39 Responses to “Bad To Worse For Washington’s Wedge Pack”

  1. Jan Young

    So sad. Will be praying for those who have such hard hearts. I am so far away (Georgia) or I would be there in Olympia. Thank you and all of the staff at Defenders for what you do!
    You are truly guardians of the Creation! Jan Young

  2. gypsyrann

    They let their animals loose on public lands and the land wolves roam. WHat dod they think(and i use that word loosely here) they’d do. Move down the block? If someone took over your land what would you do if it meant loss of food and a home?
    This is so sad it unbelievable.

  3. Richard Hay

    Wolves only eat when they are hungry. Is it asking too much for a rancher to sacrifice a cow now and then? We need to live in harmony with nature not kill it off.

    • jodi

      Can you keep your cattle on your own land? And clean up dead carcasses?

  4. Lisa Billings

    I’m crying as I write this. What a horrible ending to this story. So sad and unnecessary what is wrong with our lawmakers?

    • Chris

      They are morons, that’s what. Coyotes are responsible for 20% of cattle deaths. Wolves are responsible for 2%. Wolves kill coyotes. So, if people kill off the wolves, MORE cattle will be killed by coyotes, not less. When every wolf is gone they will still be losing cattle – more than ever. That’s about the only consolation in this whole sorry mess. When they all go bankrupt from coyote predation, maybe they’ll get their stinkin’ cattle off OUR land and the wolves can come back.

  5. Kelly J Barnett

    This is the most assinine, bloodthirsty, inhumane BS I have ever heard in my life!!!! WTF???? Why are some people who should be doing all they can to protect animals bent on destroying an entire species???? WHO THE HELL IS PAYING THEM FOR THIS ABOMBINATION????

    • Chris

      Who is paying them?? Well, if you pay taxes like me, WE are paying the tax-sucking leeches to murder wolves. Now, who is paying the people who make those decisions? B-I-G- B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S. That’s who. Your voice counts for nothing. Neither does your vote. Only your money counts, providing you bring them enough of it, so they can buy the next election. Amazingly, about 85% of Americans firmly believe they are among the top 1% of the population in income. So they go along with this system.

  6. Dawn

    When wolves are hungry their only choice is to eat! Humans are the only blood thirsty creatures!

  7. melissa

    Please help leave these inacent animals alone. There just doing what there born to do. U should remove them them and put somewhere safe so no one could kill them ever again because we will not have any fature generation. And that pretty sad when u look at at that way.

  8. Wendy

    How many millions of dollars of meat are thrown away at grocery stores because it has home bad before being bought? Millions! It’s not the wolves that need to go, it’s the excess meat in grocery stores…public land should not be used for grazing livestock!

  9. perry v strom

    I agree that if you cows sheep what ever is on my public land he becomes my wolf food keep your stock on your land were it belongs

  10. Sharon

    Why do the wolves have to suffer bad consquences when they are only trying to survive! Let the ranchers spend some money to put up better fencing around their live stock. But no the government wants to spend money euthanizing creaturs that deserve to live life. How do we treat humans that kill other humans….. We arrest them and have them sit in jail while the taxpayers have to pay higher taxes in orderthem to eat and do odd jobs like clean the latrenes, mop floors and serve the food. So the ranchers need to put in a little extra money to protect their livestock. Save the wolves do not kill them for doing what they need to do to survive!

  11. Kitty

    Its breaking my heart! They are the villians! Piss me off! So sad to see the wedge pack in frightens and lost few members family.

  12. Sonia

    Give them food. They don’t kill for nothing like humans….they’re HUNGRY!!!!!

  13. craig

    Leave the poor wolves alone. This is disgusting behaviour from the US government. Plenty of cows left in the world, not many wolves. How many more species must be made extinct???????

    The answer is simple, compensate the farmers for their loss if they afforded proper care for their cattle and its proven to be wolf at fault.

    • Julie W.

      Craig, that seems like common sense. how sad that those paid to make these decisions are incapable of coming to a logical solution like this. I hope we are all making calls to voice our complaints and discontent with this and all decisions like this. your suggestion would undoubtedly save money as well! How tragic they can’t opt to try that first…

    • Millie Sheen

      I agree. WOLVES DID NOTHING. leave them alone. You have managed to get my point across (along with many other peoples!)

  14. Christina Luera

    Please stop the killing and use alternative methods to remove wolves.

  15. sharon

    Another example of corporate welfare, the taxpayer is forced to subsidize the beef farmer by allowing the farmer to use public lands to subsidize their business, and then we have public officials protecting the farmers’ profits by killing the wolves.


  16. janice

    I live to far away. Good luck with getting people that can show up. I wish we could stop all killing of wolves.

  17. Ellen

    This rancher grazes his poor livestock deep in the Nat’ll Forest..home of predators. I feel sorry for the livestock being put in this situation (especially calving here) and definitely
    ticked off about WDFW killing 6 wolves already in this pack. The first female was killed awhile back to deter the pack (which does not make any sense).
    We are very upset..no response from the Director of WDFW from an email I sent to him. Gov. office hung up on me after I had spoke 2-3 sentences (said she would put me on the list and then hung up while I was still talking).
    I hope and pray Defenders can get through to WDFW in how wrong they handeled this situation. Ranchers have their way in this area..they kill their cattle for profit. The poor wolf eats to stay alive and I doubt that most of the livestock problems were not caused by wolves. More political than anything else..sickening!

    • wolfladysue

      Bill McIrvin slaughters the cattle for us to eat. So why do we kill the wolves for eating the cattle? Bill McIrvin is very wealthy and the loss of a few head of cattle didn’t put a dent in his pocketbook.

  18. Beth

    I sure wish i could come. I live ALL the way in Indiana. I hope you can save wolves, it would be hell without them!

  19. Sharon

    I am sick over this. What is wrong with our government anyway. Have they nothing better to do than slaughter these beautiful misunderstood animals. People have a lot to learn from wolves and the animal kingdom in general. I keep writing to my Congress Rep but it doesn’t seem to help. I have been a member of Defenders for many years and have donated and adopted wolves and packs of wolves with the hope that one day our lawmakers will open their eyes and their hearts and stop this needless slaughter. I will continue to support Defenders, I just wish I could do more.

  20. David

    I have shared my opinions with eager friends and peers who will soon sign petitions against this atrosity and will faithfully avoid eating of beef from these murderers and abusers!

  21. Kitty

    When I watch one of Defenders video, oh my goodness! So many, many, many sheep and cattle overgrazing land, likely thousand – millions of sheep and cattle! Only few thousand of wolves and still killing them! Must stop wolf hunt & slaughter .. Cruelty! Send my prayers for the wolves families.

  22. bruce roberts

    Why have a plan in place if state agency staff can ignore it. What consequences are in place for violating the plan.

  23. Tim Upham

    What the State of Washington has in place, is to remove the Wedge Pack, and have the area recolonized with a wolf pack that does not have a taste for cattle. Which makes sense, for wolves living in a pack learn group behavior, and they can start going after the surplus of white-tailed and mule deer. Or is it like all predators, they will go after the easiest game possible?

    • Ellen

      Killing the Wedge Pack should never have happened in the first place. The r
      anchers cooperated with using non-lethal methods to protect their livestock. McIrvine (Circle M Ranch) refused to cooperate with non-lethal methods that could have saved both the wolves and a couple calves that were badly injured (btw, most of the cattle injuries were not wolf related in the first place according to expert and reliable sources). So why would WDFW proceed to dispatch this wolf pack for one rancher who was not cooperating and refused their help??? Politics or ? WDFW messed up big time and the wolves are the ones who lost their lives from this huge mistake!

  24. cassie carroll

    I will be in Olympia today representing all of you, speaking out against the killing of the Wedge Pack, and demanding that WDFW (WA. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife) FOLLOW the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan adopted in Dec. 2011. We MUST work together to prevent future conflicts by using non lethal deterrents. We must INSIST that WDFW follow the States’ Wolf Management Plan which outlines the requirements the WDFW must meet to employ lethal means. In this case, WDFW did not meet the requirements (clear documentation that livestock had been killed by wolves, that non-lethal methods were used, that no evidence of intentional feeding by the livestock owner was present). It is my belief that WDFW violated the Washington Administrative Procedures Act by not following the requirements outlined by the plan. Do not dismay, we can and will do better here in Washington. There are A LOT of concerned citizens who care deeply about this endangered species and we will work hard to ensure their fair treatment and survival. Education, advocacy, non lethal deterrents, rancher/farmer/conservation group partnerships, building trust, learning how to coexist with these amazing creatures, are all part of the on going work. We will hold the WDFW accountable for their actions and demand that going forward WDFW follows the Management Plan. Lethal means should be the LAST resort after all other methods have been tried.
    Keep up the great work you are doing, writing to your elected officials, giving $ when you can, speaking out. We can and will do better to help protect WA gray wolves!

  25. Millie Sheen

    It never had to be like this! They did nothing! If they do kill off the whole pack I will be so sad. Already am. come on people! They never did anything to you except eat a few cattle which they may not have lets remember. The pups had a future ahead of them. They are only young its not their fault. Their mother and father were keeping them alive and then we go and kill them. People can be cruel sometimes. I love it when people help other animals and realize we don’t rule this world and that wolves and other animals alike do live here too.

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