An Eye For An Eye On the Wedge

The news was released Friday afternoon that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to kill not only four of the Wedge pack wolves, but the entire pack. Their efforts sound serious, employing state marksmen, trappers, and biologists,  24/7. They will bait the wolves with deer carcasses and may also enlist the help of the sheriff’s department deputies.  And if all this doesn’t work, they’re bringing in helicopters. Wildlife Services cannot legally assist without going through NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).

Price ticket for this dire lethal removal plan? Who knows. And when another pack of wolves infiltrates the Wedge, what will the state of Washington and resident ranchers do differently to prevent the same problems?

Jack Field, Executive Vice President of the Washington Cattleman’s Association, is quoted in the Sept 21, 2012 WDFW news release as saying, “We understand that as wolves re-populate the state there will be conflicts with livestock. We also understand that we need to work with WDFW to find solutions, including the use of non-lethal measures…”

Yet in a power point presentation recently delivered by WDFW Director Phil Anderson that listed “Non-lethal Tools Deployed” I read only three non-lethal measures the Diamond M tried: 1. They separated young calves from wolves by pasturing cow-calf pairs in an area without wolves until the calves are older. 2. They increased the number of range riders who checked on livestock daily. 3. They removed livestock with significant injuries…

Other tools listed were used by WDFW and included such things as sharing wolf location information with the Diamond M and providing non-injurious harassment to wolves if detected near livestock.

Is this enough of a non-lethal effort to warrant elimination of the entire pack? 

Conservation Northwest, a non-profit whose focus is “Keeping the Northwest Wild,”  must think so. They say in the WDFW news release issued yesterday, “…We understand and agree that pack removal is the right action at this point.”

On Thursday, before this news broke loose, I had a nice talk with Madonna Luers, Public Information Officer for WDFW. She informed me that as of yet, no wolves had be killed other than the female shot in July, and that the alpha male of the Wedge pack was not to be killed because, “We don’t want to shoot our informant.”

She stated “The Wedge area will always have wolves,” and agreed that preventative measures should be taken to prevent further problems there.  She had heard that some rancher from Montana had contacted the McIrvins of the Diamond M ranch, offering to drive out and do whatever he could to research non-lethal measures that had not yet been used. I told her that this Montana rancher was Steve Clevidence and about the successful work he, Timm Kaminsky, and others are doing at ranches in Alberta and elsewhere.

She was interested in this. But it was up to the McIrvins to take the next move in enlisting the help.

Madonna mentioned that Steve Pozzanghera, Eastern Regional Director WDFW and Policy Lead on wolves, was attending a meeting near the Wedge area, one held monthly with ranchers. She gave me his number but said he would be out of town after this week.

I think I’d go out of town too.

The more I delve into the Wedge issue, the more complex I realize it is. There are people working hard, struggling to do the right thing, learning from their mistakes. And there are wolves that are just trying to eat. Yet the order to eliminate the entire pack, using deputies and helicopters, is over the top.

Madonna said something that made me think, and I hope everyone who reads this will give it some thought too, including those that pushed for the elimination of these wolves. She said, “I wish I could wave a magic wand and have more people than not see the gray wolf as just another wildlife species.”

And she added, “Isn’t it a point of pride that we have enough wild places that a few wolves can live in.”

When will pride in our wilderness trump commerce and special interest? I hope my kids live to see that day.

15 thoughts on “An Eye For An Eye On the Wedge

  1. This pack now, and then the next pack that fills the void, and the next after that……… no End to this is in sight until these agencies and land users realize proactive non-lethal measures work and need to be put into place BEFORE a situation such as this develops. The wedge pack versus rancher situation has been going on since 2007. While it may be late to help the existing Wedge pack, future packs that will fill the vacancy left by this pack may just have a chance at survival, If the state of Washington and the landowners will simply put some proactive measures into place before predation escalates. The time is upon us to stop pointing fingers as who is at fault, and realize no one is solely at fault, as everyone is at fault for this to a certain degree. The wolves learned that they had a readily and easy prey source in their back yards, of course they will take advantage of it. There is no malice in their actions, its what nature intended for them to do. They do not differentiate between a domestic or a wild food source. Humans have to learn about the Wolf and understand its pack structure and the instincts that trigger the animal to hunt and kill. When humans decide to put aside their fears and myths about the animal and actually come to know it, then perhaps humans will learn how to live with wolves. Placing domestic livestock within the realm of a predator, without any preventive measures in place, its like ringing the dinner bell and inviting the predator to dinner. ~ Wulf

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  2. Beckie…I have had conversations with Montana Wildlife Services Director John Stueber. They (WS) recently received helicopters (Kiowa’s) with varies parts from another government agency Homeland Security. Its my understanding that they are being retrofitted to become gunship platforms. One of my questions to John was the cost of flying a chopper. His stated it was around $450 dollars per hour.

    I also spoke to Dave Ware yesterday and most admit….he was very polite and engaging. You dont see this type of openness & cooperation in the Rockies.

    I am sorry to learn that this pack will be removed. With that said….What is/will be done differently for the next pack that moves into this area? Is this about living with wolves or the livestock industry drawing a line in the sand?!?!

    As always thanks for the article. Marc

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    • Marc, thanks for your thoughts. We are going to continue to pursue putting non-lethal programs on the ground in Washington. We have our work cut out for us, but none of us are giving up on this. As always I appreciate your comments and thoughts, they mean a lot! thank you ~ Wulf

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  3. It’s the ranchers getting their way. I understand there are exceptions but I think the vast majority either don’t want wolves or don’t care. I’m thankful for the “predator friendly” ranchers who share our concerns and respect the wildlife.
    Steve said “There is no malice in their actions” and yet I feel that some hunters and ranchers really believe the opposite. So sad that they just don’t “get it”.
    Marc’s comment about “gunship platforms” made my blood run cold…and then boil. It seems apparent that on WS are doing the killing? I suppose they will do all possible to avoid having photos of their “accomplishment” leak to the public. They should be ashamed to collect a paycheck.
    So…what do we do with all of this anger and disappointment? How do we remain hopeful and proactive?

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  4. As always I wish to thank Beckie for putting her thoughts to ink….so to speak. Steve and Living With Wolves for their never ending effort. Gail…to answer you question about remaining hopeful. I have my moments of being depressed & thats when I lean on close friends in this struggle. I try and find the silver lining or turn a negative into a positive. That anger that you wrote of …about WS doing as they please……That is the energy you need to harness in defense of wolves. I have a photo above my desk where I do some of my wolf advocacy. It was given to me by Lynne Stone. It a picture of a dead wolf. It’s not only was shot but beaten afterwards. When I feel tired I look at that photo and draw energy to make one more phone call or what ever is needed. One thing that has never occurred to me is throwing in the towel. Just not in my DNA! Hope that helps. Marc

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    • Marc, it’s my nature to remain optimistic even when things look bleak. It was a particularly bad evening…reading about the “gunship platform”….so final and descriptive and bringing the reality to light. Then I think of the wolves (and all wildlife), so innocent, going about their business of living and unsuspecting of the slaughter to come. It is so WRONG, yet it is so LEGAL.
      I will continue to fight the fight for wildlife justice in whatever ways possible. Thanks 🙂

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  5. How wonderful to come home from a weekend of camping (on the lookout for OR 7) and see all these inspiring and intelligent comments. I’m honored to be a part of a group of individuals that care so deeply, and so altruistically, for the earth and its creatures.
    I too get discouraged about these wolf issues, and I’m a long way from the battlegrounds many of you face every day. Taking off and spending time in the natural world always helps me, no matter what I’m dealing with.
    I was in Northern California, in wilderness I’d never been in before. These vast and varied lands are magnificent. But they lack wolves, except for one little guy trying to make a go of it on his own.
    This realization is one reason to keep fighting. People have no right to eliminate native species from an environment that belongs to us all. Public lands were set aside for the enjoyment of our society, as well as to preserve the environment. The vast majority of us want these places to be rich with the flora and fauna they are meant to contain, predators included.
    Thanks again for your comments. And sleep well.

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    • Thanks for your soothing comment, Beckie.
      >>People have no right to eliminate native species from an environment that belongs to us all. <<
      Exactly, and until our rights, which represent the rights of our wolves and all wildlife are recognized, we must continue our strong opposition and never waver.
      I'm hoping that the F&W study regarding who spends how much will soon be publicized, though I'm guessing there will be those who will make every attempt to keep the figures skewed.
      Is F&W the only entity that is "qualified" to do such a study? With all of the pro-wolf (and other more encompassing) organizations it is surprising that one of them has not undertaken such a project up to this point.

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  6. Avenge the Wedge Pack–where are the cubs–who will rescue them?

    AVENGE THE WEDGE PACK–BOYCOTT WASHINGTON STATE AGRICULTURE
    So, Washington Fish and Game and its state governor must be proud. They have killed almost an entire wolf pack for no reason. Rancher McIrvin told me in August he wasn’t sure that wolves were responsible for the loss of a few of his cattle.Washington State, its Fish and Game and its ranchers must be punished for this brutality. They have no “management plan.” Just like the imbeciles running Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, its kill, kill kill. This quote from WFG is laughable: “Directing the pack’s removal was a very difficult decision, both personally and professionally, but it was necessary to reset the stage for sustainable wolf recovery in this region,” Anderson said. “Now we will refocus our attention on working with livestock operators and conservation groups to aggressively promote the use of non-lethal tactics to avoid wolf-livestock conflict.” So, why didn’t they do this in the Wedge case. What a liar–men who kill wolves via aeiral gunning enjoy killing, otherwise, they would not do it. That rancher McIrvin must be run off our public lands. BOYCOTT WASHINGTON AGRICULTURE–APPLES, WHEAT, SWEET PEAS, ONIONS, LENTILS and its tourism. These bring in far more money to the state than cattle. AND GET RANCHERS OFF PUBLIC LANDS. AVENGE THE WEDGE PACK AND SAVE THEIR CUBS.

    Dr. Catherine Feher-Elston, CEO
    Ravensong Group

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    • Thanks for your comment regarding the quote from WFG’s Mr. Anderson:
      “”Directing the pack’s removal was a very difficult decision, both personally and professionally, but it was necessary to reset the stage for sustainable wolf recovery in this region,”
      It made absolutley no sense whatsoever. Like you, I’m convinced they have to be a hunters first and foremost to qualify for the F&W jobs.

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  7. I have been and still am an avid hunter, yet I have NEVER had any desire to terminate the life of a predatory species. IF they were a source of food or if they were after my pets or grandchildren, that would be different. The cattle, in this case, were a significant investment, but it was the ranchers responsibility to protect his herd and he failed to do so. If nothing else, he should have rounded up his herd from the forestlands and moved them to safer pastures. He just didn’t want to be bothered to do his job. As a result, the whole pack has been destroyed as a functional unit and the problem remains. Eveerybody concerned with destroying this pack has unnecessary blood on their hands. May God forgive them, because I won’t.

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    • I would think that if they didn’t de-horn the cattle then dump them in and around known wolf habitat, then things might have evened out on their own…without lethal interference from humans.
      I’m glad to see a hunter speak out against his peers who are so ill-informed, the ones who have such an intense hatred of their competition that they will do anything to kill them. If there were more voices like Patrick, I think the dynamics of this “war” on predators would change dramatically and for the better.

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  8. It WASN’T the Wedge Pack. It was McIrvin’s closest neighbor’s mutt dogs. Thr man, a convicted child molester, slapped a for sale sign on his house and split just as soon as the pack was wrongfully slaughtered. That explains WDFW’s own comments that it looked like whatever was biting the cows “Had more gum than teeth”. Don’t expect the wdfw idiots to admit they found ZERO cow in any of the 8 wolf autopsies. That would get them all fired, and also stop the donations pouring into the “In bed with cattlemen” so called wildlife group, Conservation NW, whom APPROVED the unjustfied and needless slaughter.

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