The Huckleberry Pack has been feeding on sheep being raised on private forest lands in northern Stevens County.
State decides to kill, not scare, wolves
On patrol to save sheep and wolves
WDF&W biologists tried non-lethal means to keep the wolves away from the 1,800 head sheep herd. But when they found five dead sheep and three injured on August 23, they issued the order to kill up to four wolves in the pack.
The only wolf killed was the female shot from a helicopter by a federal contractor. WDF&W was hoping to keep the breeding pair alive so that if the pack learned to leave the sheep alone, it could rebuild and return to hunting wild animals.
Fish & Wildlife hunting wolves that killed sheep
Rancher moves sheep away from wolf pack
"Obviously, this is an unfortunate development and one we hoped to avoid," said Nate Pamplin, WDF&W's Assistant Wildlife Program Director. "We provided direction for individuals involved in aerial removals or trapping/euthanasia to try to remove smaller bodied animals." He added the alpha wolf weighed 66 pounds and was 3 years old. Pamplin said they couldn't determine it was the alpha female from the air.
Biologists say losing the alpha female harms the survival of a wolf pack, but other females in the pack may fill that role.