Friday, September 30, 2016

Washington State Exterminates Profanity Peak Pack

US Person, in his never-ending efforts to bring you news from the REAL world, missed this tragic story of the Profanity Peak wolf pack. Thanks to the bloggers at The Wildlife News for bringing it to his attention. Back in August a rancher with a history of wolf conflict to his dubious credit plopped his cows on the denning range of the Profanity Peak pack. Doubtless this choice of graze within his public land allotment was intended to force state wildlife authorities to act when the inevitable happened: predation. Act they did, by exterminating six members of the pack. Government agents are out there now seeking to trap and kill the remaining animals. Wolf management is not about biology, but politics. Wolves are the favorite target of predator haters, whose bigotry is culturally ingrained.

On August 4, 2016 AP reported that state wildlife officials permitted the killing of some of the Profanity Peak wolves in Ferry County after a calf had been taken. This was the third time the state had authorized the killing of wolves since they began recolonizing the state a decade ago. [map] State rules require that there be four confirmed incidents of wolf predation before lethal action is taken. Two adult females were shot from a helicopter including the breeding female. At that point in time the pack had eleven members. By the end of August, six more wolves were shot.  The Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife then announced it would kill the entire pack because of predation, the second time an entire wolf pack in the state would be eliminated. The Wedge Pack was eliminated for the same reason, predation on the same rancher's livestock. The fact that ranchers use inappropriate timbered forest areas on public land [photo below] is apparently irrelevant to the political decision to placate a powerful special interest group. Grazing activity in forests drive off deer and elk, the wolves natural prey animals. Radio collar data on both elk and wolves confirm this relationship.

In the case of the Profanity Peak pack, telemetry showed that the rancher involved in this needless slaughter set his stock near their den where members where concentrating their pup raising activities. Near is a relative term when it comes to wolf foraging trips. They often range up to twenty to thirty miles in search of food. Three cattle kills took place within one mile of the den. Ten others were within two to ten miles of wolf activity centers according to a state wildlife official. Salt blocks were dispersed near wolf territory to attract livestock. According to Robert Wielgus, a researcher at Washington State University who monitored the pack in Colville National Forest, "the livestock operator elected to put his cows directly on top of their den site; we have picture of cows swamping it". This is the behavior of a rancher operating with a grudge against wolves. A conclusion supported by the fact that Washington agriculturalists are compensation for confirmed wolf predation on their stock. Wielgus was later publicly rebuked by his employers for his candid comment.

Colville forest wolf; credit Colville Indian tribe
The fact the state used lethal means to placate a constituent is beyond tragic but complicity in an culturally induced, irrational bias against predators. Wolves have feelings beyond mere pain. They experience terror, and feel loss of fellow pack members, not surprising in a tightly knit social hierarchy. Non-lethal controls work well as have been repeatedly demonstrated elsewhere in the world. In fact Washington officials turned down an offer from a Californian nature preserve to relocate the Profanity Peak wolves to friendlier space. They stated relocation, "was not feasible" even though the relocation would not cost the state a nickle. And so there you have it dear reader, an inhumane slaughter of an entire family of ecologically important predators to unfairly protect the subsidized property of one bigoted human. The unreality of it all boggles the rational mind.