The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Washington State Kills Last Four of a Wolf Pack Hours Before Court-Ordered Reprieve
The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.
The wolves, members of the Old Profanity Territory pack in the Colville National Forest of Northeastern Washington, were killed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) after the pack killed or injured 14 cattle in a ten month period, KUOW reported.
The killings occurred early Friday morning, before a court hearing began at 9:30 a.m. in King County Superior Court. The judge ordered the state to temporarily halt its wolf killings until the case could go to trial, but the order came too late.
"It's unbelievably tragic that this wolf family has already been annihilated by the state," Sophia Ressler of wildlife advocacy group the Center for Biological Diversity told the Associated Press. "It seems like Washington's wildlife agency is bent on wiping out the state's wolves."
A judge just ruled to stop the killing of Old Profanity wolves, but sadly the order came too late — 8 of the 9 members of this wolf family had already been killed, including four pups. And the Togo pack remains unprotected.— Center for Bio Div (@CenterForBioDiv) August 17, 2019
Please: Raise your voice now. https://t.co/Kab7V0qKYO
Washington State's wolf management plan allows for the "lethal removal" of wolves that attack livestock in the eastern part of the state, where they are not federally listed as an endangered species, according to KUOW. Before the agency resorts to wolf killings, however, any rancher whose livestock is threatened must first show that they took reasonable measures to protect their animals. These include hiring a type of cowboy known as a range rider, using lights and noise to scare wolves and removing sick and injured animals. The WDFW claimed reasonable steps were taken in the case of the Old Profanity Territory pack, but the Center for a Humane Economy, the group that supported the suit to stop the killings, disagreed. They argued that the rancher in question had asked state range riders to leave his ranch July 8. Nine of the 14 recent livestock attacks occurred after this date.
The group also questioned WDFW's decision to schedule the killings for the morning before a hearing.
"It's like, 'Okay, we've got to get these wolves now, in case the judge stops us,'" Center for a Humane Economy President Wayne Pacelle told KUOW.
WDFW spokesperson Staci Lehman said the scheduling of the killings was just "unfortunate timing."
"It's always unfortunate whenever we have to remove wolves," Lehman told KUOW. "It's never taken lightly by anybody at the department."
WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized the lethal removal of the pack on July 31 after finding it responsible for 29 total livestock attacks since Sept. 2018, according to an agency statement. Since Aug. 1, WDFW has killed seven wolves on the following dates:
- Aug. 7: one wolf
- Aug. 8: one wolf
- Aug.13: one wolf
- Aug.16: four wolves
The wolves killed included four pups, the Center for a Humane Economy said in a statement. The agency said it had killed all known members of the pack, though another wolf was sited in the area in the spring. WDFW said it might be a member of another pack, while KUOW and the center reported it as a surviving member of the Old Profanity Territory pack.
The ranch that originated the complaints that led to the killings is the Diamond M Ranch owned by the McIrvin family, the center said. Complaints from this family have prompted 87 percent of the wolf killings in Washington.
"The McIrvin family is baiting wolves with live cattle on our federal lands," Pacelle said in the statement. "And then they complain when the inevitable occurs, and then plead with the state to kill more wolves from helicopters."
Pacelle told KUOW that ultimately he would like to see Washington stop granting grazing allotments in wolf habitat.
The Old Profanity Territory pack is the second lethally removed wolf pack from the area in three years. A kill order is currently in effect for two members of the Togo pack, who also live in Northeast Washington.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis
Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.
The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.
By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.
By Mark Hertsgaard
The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."