STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. -- Washington State Fish and Wildlife (WDF&W) leaders said Monday their contractor has killed one female wolf and will kill up to three more in hopes of preventing more livestock losses in Stevens County.
WDF&W said The 12-member Huckleberry Pack of wolves has been attacking sheep grazing on private forest land near Chewelah.
Last week they tried non-lethal techniques including assigning staff to patrol the herd overnight in the rugged mountains north of the Spokane Indian Reservation.
At that point the wolves had killed as many as 16 sheep in the 1,800 head herd. Over the weekend that number jumped to 22.
WDF&W Wildlife Director Nate Pamplin said biologists found five fresh carcasses on Saturday and three injured sheep.
Wildlife groups immediately criticized the decision to kill wolves instead of moving the sheep herd to areas outside the pack's range.
"The whole situation could have been avoided with proactive guidance and common sense sheep and wildlife management," said Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife.
State Senator Kevin Ranker said he and a fellow lawmaker are creating a response to the decision to kill wolves which he said should have been announced earlier and discussed.
This is the second time the state has said it had no choice but to kill problem wolves. In 2012 sharpshooters killed the entire Wedge Pack of Wolves which was reportedly attacking cattle in Northeast Washington.