The chair of the Washington State Senate committee that oversees The Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a terse letter to the department Friday, calling its recent decision to kill an endangered wolf pack near Colville “a serious failure.”
State Senator Kevin Ranker, (D) Orcas Island, chairs the Energy, Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to kill the Wedge Pack of wolves because the animals were attacking livestock.
Last week, sharpshooters shot and killed six wolves, including the alpha male.
Ranker’s letter outlines “deep concerns” over Fish and Wildlife’s management of the Wedge Pack. He indicates state guidelines require non-lethal methods of wolf management be used first, something he said did not happen.
He also writes “the mass removal of a pack is not prohibited by the wolf plan, (but) it is at odds with the central process.”
Ranker told KING 5 News in a Skype interview that when a Fish and Wildlife official called him to tell him that the alpha male had been killed, he hung up the phone.
"I felt sick to my stomach," he said.
Ranker questions if the agency put the same effort into non-lethal methods that it put into the kill.
"Over a three-week period they took out one animal and then in a three-day period they took out the rest of the pack, so it would seem like they put much more of an effort into the kill than they may have leading up to that," he said.
“I don’t believe that the department is out to kill wolves. I believe the department is trying as hard as they can to really see some successes here, but in this situation they have failed, and they need to learn from those mistakes," he said.
The Wedge Pack is believed to have killed livestock belonging to one landowner who, according to Sen. Ranker’s letter, “refused to participate” in wolf attack prevention efforts.
Ranker said the Department has told him that they will have responses to all of his questions by the end of next week.
KING 5's John Langeler and Susan Wyatt contributed to this report