Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials have shot and killed a male wolf that had been preying on livestock in the northeastern part of the state.
The wolf, which was wearing a radio collar that provided its location, was shot and killed from a helicopter Sunday morning in the Togo wolf pack's territory, just east of Danville just south of the U.S.-Canada border. Officials plan to perform a necropsy on the wolf's carcass as soon as possible.
A judge ruled last Friday that WDFW officials could kill the wolf, which had killed a cow and injured two calves. WDFW personnel tried to locate the wolf Friday and Saturday, but couldn't find the animal until Sunday.
After the Friday morning hearing, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy declined to extend a restraining order that was issued by another judge earlier in the month and was set to expire later in the day.
Murphy said that the two environmental groups that had obtained the restraining order - The Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands - had failed to show that they would suffer irreparable harm if the department shot the wolf. They argued that taking lethal action would not stop livestock attacks but may make them more common.
"The other adult female wolf, because it is difficult for wolves to take down big game singly, she will become desperate to kill whatever she can to feed the pups so that the pups don't starve. Probably, especially given the unnatural attractants on the landscape, the easiest prey for her will be sick or injured livestock," argued Claire Davis, the attorney representing the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Center for Biological Diversity is currently suing the state over its lethal removal policy. Friday's hearing was specifically focused on whether the state should refrain from taking any lethal action until that case is resolved.
"There will be a court date in the future at which our arguments that the state has violated the State Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedures Act," said Amaroq Weiss. "We just hope that between now and then, there aren't more of Washington state endangered wolves that get senselessly killed."
Since the earlier restraining order was issued, a rancher said he shot at the wolf in self-defense and apparently wounded it in the left rear leg. Fish and Wildlife officials say that the wolf that was shot dead on Sunday had a rear leg that was injured.
There are currently 23 wolf packs in Washington, with the majority concentrated in the northeast corner where the Togo pack roams.
WDFW managers have confirmed the pack's involvement in six separate incidents since last November.