Friday, August 26, 2016
Can wolves and ranchers coexist in Washington state?
After a series of attacks on livestock, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) authorized state officials to cull the wolf pack responsible – a decision that has prompted backlash from conservation groups throughout the state. The WDFW has linked six cattle deaths to the Profanity Peak pack, a group of 11 gray wolves near Kettle Falls. State wildlife officials had shot two pack members earlier this month, but suspended removal efforts after livestock killings ceased. The dispute is just one of many that pit cattlemen against conservationists in the Pacific Northwest. But there are compromises which could satisfy officials, ranchers, and environmentalists alike. In Washington, the Profanity Peak pack is one of just eight packs with successful breeding pairs. There are fewer than 20 total wolf packs in the state, and a total of 90 individuals. Conservationists aim to preserve these populations, which play an important role in both national heritage and local ecosystem flow. But to cattlemen, the gray wolf is a menace. Many of these livestock owners have used the same business practices for generations – practices that didn’t account for wolves, which were virtually nonexistent at the time. Now, wolf populations are growing and brushing up against open range ranchers. The resulting attacks are financially devastating, as cattle can cost up to $2,000 per individual. And since only federal officials are allowed to kill wolves legally, many livestock owners feel that their livelihoods are not adequately protected...more