Enviros, ranchers face off at Olympia hearing on wolves

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 5 at 7:39 PM

OLYMPIA -- The members of Washington’s newest wolf pack are dead -– or are they?

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife commission is scheduled to be briefed Friday on the latest information on the status of the Wedge Pack, which was targeted for elimination last month after it began preying on cattle in Stevens County.

The commission meeting heard from a combustible mix of citizens.

A group of protestors gathered Friday on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia to protest DFW's decision to deploy sharpshooters to kill more than a half dozen animals. That decision was made after wildlife officials concluded that there was no other way to protect cattle in the area.

Shelly Bristow of Project Alpha Wolf said Friday that the state didn’t exercise all its non-lethal options before it killed the wolves.

Ranchers asked the commission to eliminate protections for wolves in Eastern Washington.

"We feel like delisting is appropriate because the wolves are well established and we're willing to work through the process of doing so," said Jamie Henneman of the Stevens County Cattlemen's Association.

She said removing the designation would create less red tape for dealing with problem wolves, much like happens with a cougar or bear.
 
If ranchers provide evidence that more problem wolves are in the Wedge Pack's territory, the commission will have to decide whether to hunt and kill those animals as well.

But Phil Anderson, DFW's director, said the agency is confident that all of the problem wolves have been removed from the area where the Wedge Pack established itself. He also does not expect that any more wolves will need to be killed in that area, in part because the cattle that was grazing on forest land have been moved to winter pasture.

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