Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 13, 2017

Contact:     Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613,

Report Shows Washington's Wildlife Agency Failed to Prevent Killing of Profanity Peak Wolf Pack

Agency Inaction Despite Predictable Livestock Conflicts Led to Massacre

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife yesterday released a long-awaited report on its killing of most of the wolves in the Profanity Peak pack in response to livestock depredations — proving the state agency failed to prevent conflicts that led to the deaths.  

The report details when cattle were put out on the allotment, when it was known wolves were in the area, and what actions were taken to address the situation. These additional details make clear that despite awareness by the department in early June that wolves and cattle were close to each other on a public-lands grazing allotment, no additional actions were taken by the department or the rancher-permittee to prevent conflicts until after a calf was killed by wolves nearly a month later. Also, the rancher appears to have put out one or more salt licks to attract livestock to the area, despite the known presence of wolves at what was later determined to be a wolf rendezvous site.

“This report demonstrates that Department of Fish and Wildlife staff knew there were wolves in the same area as the livestock a month before depredations occurred but didn't take any additional action to prevent cattle loss,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We're troubled by what this report reveals and deeply saddened that seven wolves in the Profanity Peak pack were killed following apparent lack of action to reduce risk of livestock depredation.”

The department is operating under a Wolf Lethal Removal Protocol that specifies the state will move to lethal control of wolves once there have been four depredations in any calendar year, provided the rancher in the case has removed or cordoned off any livestock carcasses that may attract wolves and has utilized at least one nonlethal measure to reduce risk of depredation. The report asserts that the rancher was dealing with carcasses, and did not turn out calves until they were at least 200 pounds, as the one nonlethal measure. Given the proximity of the cows to a den, this single measure had little chance of success, and, as previously stated, no additional measures were required.

“The killing of wolves in the Profanity Peak pack clearly highlights that the department's protocol does not do enough to ensure nonlethal measures are exhausted before the state moves to kill wolves, which, besides being tragic, is done at taxpayer expense,” said Weiss. “We hope to work with the department to develop a better protocol before the state moves to kill wolves in response to depredations.” 

The report reveals that the state spent $134,999 to cover expenses by six field staff in the operation that ended with the killing of seven of the pack's 12 members, and does not include expenses related to time spent by other staff involved in the matter. In 2012 the state spent more than $77,000 to kill seven members of the Wedge pack for conflicts with cattle owned by the same permittee in a neighboring county, and in 2014 spent in excess of $50,000 in its field efforts to kill one wolf of the Huckleberry pack.

The report additionally revealed that one of the Profanity Peak pack wolves shot by gunners in helicopters did not immediately die and had to be put out of its suffering when it was located three days later.

The state intended to kill all members of the Profanity Peak pack, but despite an 11-week effort, five ended up surviving, largely because the terrain in the allotments is, as described in the report, very rugged and densely forested. These same characteristics make the allotment marginal for livestock, but excellent habitat for wildlife like wolves and lynx.

“The report demonstrates that the state agency and ranchers should be focusing on nonlethal measures to deter conflicts proactively from the moment wolves and cattle are known to be in close proximity,” Weiss said. “It also confirms what science says about killing wolves to resolve conflict: It's very expensive and ineffective for resolving conflict, and attempts to kill wolves don't always result in a clean shot and a humane death.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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