Tag Archives: Profanity Peak Pack

Press Release: Wolf Livestock Depredation in WA and Profanity Peak Pack

Dr. Robert Wielgus Director, Large Carnivore Conservation Lab 3/27/17

This Press release was written by Dr. Wielgus as a private citizen and does not express the positions of Washington State University.                                                                                    

Four years ago the Washington State Legislature tasked and funded me to determine 1.) the extent of wolf livestock depredations in WA, 2.)  possible contributing factors, and 3.) possible mitigating factors – to reduce livestock depredations in WA.

Here are the verifiable facts concerning wolf livestock depredations obtained from my WSU radio-telemetry data of wolves and livestock, date and time stamped video records of wolves and livestock, and public records from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife*.

  1.  Using intensive radio-telemetry of livestock overlapping wolf home ranges: among 11 different cooperating herds studied over 2 years – zero of 764 radio-tagged livestock were killed by wolves. Among this sample of cooperating ranchers, fewer than 1% of estimated livestock losses were due to wolf depredations. 
  2.  Using extensive radio-monitoring of 5 wolf packs monitored over 3 years (15 wolf pack years) and examination of 444 wolf kill sites: 9 of 15 packs had zero wolf livestock kills at 444 kill sites and 3 of 15 packs had < 5% livestock kills. For the remaining 3 packs with more than 5% kills, one had 16% and another had 23% – and sheep comprised most of these kills. The Profanity Peak pack had 67% livestock kills. Among this sample of wolf packs, including the Profanity Peak outlier, fewer than 7% of wolf kills were livestock.
  3.  Re: the numerous livestock depredations by the profanity Peak Pack. Using radio-telemetry and date and time stamped video surveillance, livestock were documented to be concentrated in the immediate vicinity of the Profanity pack den and rendezvous site. Salt blocks were also observed within 200 meters of the den. Several days after livestock arrived at the den-site, wolves began depredating the livestock, and numerous livestock were eventually killed by wolves.  After failure of subsequent non-lethal interventions to deter livestock depredations the wolf pack was lethally controlled. 
  4. Re; Preventative measures taken in the Profanity Peak Pack. The rancher involved did not sign and abide by the terms of a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Damage Prevention Agreement* prior to lethal control of wolves.  (See Profanity Peak Post Action report, Appendix 1, Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention/Reduction Activities and Associated Expectations, “Avoiding Den and Rendezvous Sites”  See paragraph 4, page 14 here. Using radio-telemetry and date and time stamped  video surveillance, cattle remained in high use wolf core areas (den and rendezvous site) during the depredations and salt blocks remained in these areas until after lethal control of wolves began.  Cattle remained in high use wolf core areas before, during and after wolf lethal control actions.  

In summary, wolf livestock depredations were not widespread and chronic in wolf-occupied areas of Washington. Instead, wolf livestock depredations appear to be rare and acute, with multiple depredations occurring in particular situations, such as described for Profanity Peak.    

These results were reviewed by WSU graduate committees, independent outside members of the committees, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Director of the School of Environment at WSU. Raw data and observations were shared with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. These results will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals in summer 2017. 

I recommend to WDFW, the WAG, and ranchers in WA to sign, and/or abide by the terms of the WDFW Cooperative Damage Prevention Agreements to reduce wolf livestock depredations. Failing that, I recommend that WDFW consider that future lethal control of wolves on public lands, for livestock depredations on public lands, be conducted only on behalf of ranchers that sign and/or abide by the terms of a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Damage Prevention Agreement – in order to provide further incentives for non-lethal preventative measures.  These recommendations could prevent similar events as happened in fall 2016 and in previous years. 

I wish to thank all the cooperating and non-cooperating ranchers in Washington, the Washington State Legislature, and my research partners at WDFW, USFS, USFWS, and Colville Confederated Tribes that made this research possible.

*Signatories to Damage Prevention agreements have access to den site location and are expected to avoid such areas if possible. 
Agreements are tailored to individual producer situations, including availability of alternative grazing sites to avoid core wolf activity centers (pup-rearing den and rendezvous sites) and WDFW-radio-collared wolf monitoring information. 

Landowners agree to share information regarding wolf activity, livestock behavior, and preventive actions taken, and to allow WDFW staff access to lands owned or controlled for livestock production. 

Livestock producers interested in Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements can contact their local WDFW Wildlife Conflict Specialist, Regional Office, or the wildlife conflict program manager Stephanie Simek atStephanie.Simek@dfw.wa.gov or at: 360-902-2476

Producers will meet with WDFW wildlife conflict specialists currently deployed to cover their area.  

Contact Info: Wielgus@wsu.edu

Fewer than 1% of estimated livestock losses were due to wolf depredations. 

Be a Voice for the Profanity Peak Pack 

Be a voice for the #ProfanityPeakPack. 

Send an email on behalf of the wolves of Washington state:

Dear Director Unsworth and Mr. Martorello,

Lethal removal of the entire Profanity Peak pack to stop depredations on livestock grazing on public lands in known wolf territory is not acceptable and frankly an abomination.
The state’s policy calls for wolves to be widely distributed throughout Washington, and the slow progress toward meeting statewide recovery goals  can easily be attributed to lethal measures utilized to protect livestock.

The fact that Washington, home to 6,971,406 people, 1,100,000 cattle, and approximately 50,000 sheep, can not allow room for approximately 90 wolves is just plain outrageous.
Ranchers getting subsidized forage on our public lands, reimbursement for losses due to depredation, as well as  grazing livestock near known wolf habitat should gracefully accept their losses and/or terminate their lease.
Our public lands and ecosystems should  not be sacrificed for the private profit of individuals. Study after study has demonstrated that grazing of livestock depresses virtually all species of wildlife, and on western rangelands has probably had a greater adverse impact on wildlife populations than any other single factor. We all have a responsibility to the Earth, our environment, and our wildlife, including wolves. It is far past time for the health of our planet and the survival of our co-inhabitants to be of the utmost importance; our focus should be on eliminating that which degrades our forests and other public lands and destroys our ecosystems.

It was disheartening to hear that State wildlife officials shot two pack members of the Profanity Peak pack on August 5th, one being the breeding female with freshly weaned pups. Then, on August 21st, Department staff lethally removed one adult male. The next day, staff removed three wolves, including one female pup, an adult male, and a second adult. The Department asserts that the second adult wolf was “humanely” killed, though this is highly unlikely as Department staff have not yet retrieved this animal (“Staff verified that the wolf was humanely killed from a helicopter, but was not found during in subsequent attempts to locate it.”) We are now left with 4 surviving pups, 1 adult, and possibly 1 gravely injured wolf.

I understand that “removing” the entire Profanity Peak pack “may prove challenging, given the rugged, timbered landscape in the area”, and I am assuming that once again officials will be gunning the remaining members down via helicopter. I also assume that little thought has been given any to the remaining pups who are too young to be hunting with the pack and therefore will be the unlucky survivors of this aerial slaughter. They will have the fortune of waiting, at the den site, for the return of their family and will have the ‘opportunity’ to starve to death.

I also understand that LARC is offering a win-win scenario for all stakeholders by kindly offering to rescue and relocate the wolves to their sanctuary. This non-lethal removal/rescue is the ethical, moral way forward that meets the needs of all parties.

The ongoing slaughter of our wildlife at the behest of private businesses needs to come to a full stop. Please rescind the kill order for the remainder of the Profanity Peak pack. Removing the wolves alive is certainly more humane than lethal control. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Your name.

Mail to: director Jim Unsworth here: jim.unsworth@dfw.wa.gov   Also email a copy to: wildthing@dfw.wa.gov.

Cc to: Donny.Martorello@dfw.wa.gov

Please also send a copy of your letter to Governor Inslee here. Or here: (contact formOr here: GovernorBoardsandCommissions@gov.wa.gov. 

Please support new legislation which will help remove livestock from our public lands.  More information can be found here.

Sign a petition here.

Related content:

Entire wolf pack to be killed.

Killing wolves on public lands is no longer acceptable.  

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