Wolf Study Doesn't Impact Washington Policy, For Now

Dec 30, 2014

A spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says a recent study on wolf depredation probably won’t change the departments current policy. Currently, department policy in the event of wolves killing livestock is to use every manner of non-lethal deterrent to protect rancher’s animals. But they do have the option of killing wolves, and in one past instance killed all the members of a problem wolf pack.

File photo of gray wolf.
Credit Flickr user USFWS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/sets/72157644568160740/

Earlier this month, Rob Wielgus, director of Washington State University’s Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, said after analyzing data over a 25 year period he found that killing wolves to reduce livestock predation actually led to more dead sheep and cows the following year, because of a change to the wolf pack structure.

Wielgus: "When you kill wolves, every wolf you kill increases the likelihood of a breeding pair the next year by five percent. The exact same number as the livestock depredation.”

But Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Madonna Luers says the study looked at such a broad geographic area of three states, its implications don’t apply to a small region where depredation is occurring here:

Luers: "When you remove a pack or individual the impact on depredation to the livestock its felt, it does go down, when you look at the landscape and all the packs and all the livestock it might not.”

Luers says the study is not conclusive, that her agency’s chief scientist calls it a hypothesis, not results or findings.