KING COUNTY: A King County Superior Court Judge granted a preliminary injunction ordering the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop killing members of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) pack Friday, just hours after the state killed four of the five surviving members of the pack. The Center for a Humane Economy supported the legal action, brought forth by three Washington residents deeply concerned about the fate of wolves.
“This is a bittersweet courtroom victory because the Department of Fish and Wildlife gunned down four more wolves on the very morning of the judicial proceeding,” said Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “The Department of Fish and Wildlife had a strong indication that its actions were not legally defensible, but they charged ahead anyway and all but eliminated another wolf pack.”
Only a single wolf of a pack that had nine members at the beginning of July survives. Among the wolves killed were four pups.
Complaints from Len and Bill McIrvin and other members of that family operating the Diamond M Ranch have triggered 87 percent of the state’s wolf killing. The family has declined government payments to compensate them for lost cattle, and refuses to take commonsense measures to protect its cattle from predators. Instead, it has publicly demanded the eradication of wolves from the area.
“The McIrvin family is baiting wolves with live cattle on our federal lands,” added Pacelle. “And then they complain when the inevitable occurs, and then plead with the state to kill more wolves from helicopters.”
Wolves are classified as “endangered” under Washington law. State agents killed as many wolves this morning in the Colville National Forest as they killed all last year in the entire state.
“I am deeply disappointed that Governor Inslee ignored the requests of countless Washingtonians to intervene and stop the needless killing of these wolves,” commented Jennifer McCausland of the Center for a Humane Economy. “He could have restrained the worst instincts and actions of his own wildlife agency but he stayed on the sidelines when we needed him most.”
Robert Wielgus, a former Washington State University wildlife biologist who has studied wolves and other predators in eastern Washington, has pointed out that livestock losses to wolves were one-third of one percent (0.003) in wolf-occupied areas of Washington, except when it comes to the ranching operations of Len McIrvin, who has suffered 14 times the losses of other ranchers in wolf-occupied territory. The state has admitted that McIrvin and his Diamond M Ranch have never used quality range riding services, and in recent weeks they refused to allow the state to send a team of range riders in to protect their cattle. They have made clear that their intent is to kill wolves, not save cattle.
In recent weeks, the Center for a Humane Economy, Animal Wellness Foundation, and Animal Wellness Action have taken a series of paid advertisements to draw attention to the needlessly provocative actions of the McIrvin family and to urge the state to stop the wolf killing in favor of non-lethal management and more strategic public-land grazing.
Wolves are slowly reclaiming small portions of their original range in Washington. The state is on a pace this year to kill a fifth of the state’s wolves, which the Department of Fish and Wildlife officials had previously estimated at 125 animals.