SEATTLE -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced it will kill the entire Profanity Peak wolf pack in Ferry County after more cattle were found either killed or injured.
The pack, which contains 11 wolves, is being removed in rugged, federal graze land between Republic and Kettle Falls.
After five cows were found dead or injured on August 3, the director of WDFW authorized a partial pack removal. At that point, two female wolves were killed, and the cow deaths appeared to stop.
There appeared to be a disturbance in wolf activity and operations paused, according to Donny Martorello, Wolf Policy Lead for WDFW.
But on August 19, more cows were found dead or injured, and the director authorized a full pack removal.
But the decision to kill the wolves is highly controversial. They are still listed as an endangered species. And some, like state Sen. Kevin Ranker, D- Orcas Island, former chair of the state Natural Resources Committee, claim the state's original intention was to kill only half the pack and see if the cow deaths stopped.
"This is extreme," said Sen. Ranker. "I was told that removal of half the pack would make a difference, and now we're being told they are going to remove the entire pack? They haven't implemented their first plan."
Martorello says the department is following strict protocol put in place by the newly formed Wolf Advisory Group.
The department would not give specifics on how many total wolves have now been killed in this latest operation.
"We are kindly asking for a little space and understanding so we can maintain the highest level of safety for the public, the staff and our producers," Martorello said.
It's the third time state officials have ordered the removal of wolves in the wild. In 2012, the Wedge Pack was ordered killed after cows were found dead in Stevens County.
Since 2008, the state’s confirmed wolf population has grown from two wolves in one pack to at least 90 wolves and 19 packs today.
Copyright 2016 KING