Friday, September 9, 2016

State turns down California wildlife sanctuary’s proposal to save Profanity Peak wolves



State Fish and Wildlife officials say a proposed plan to capture and transport the Profanity peak wolves to a California sanctuary is not feasible.

Washington state officials have rejected a proposal by a wildlife preserve to save the Profanity Peak wolf pack targeted for extermination.

“We received the proposal to relocate the remaining Profanity Peak pack members to California, but that approach just isn’t feasible,” said Eric Gardner, assistant director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), in an emailed statement.

Lorin Lindner and Matthew Simmons, co-founders of the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center, a 4,000-acre preserve near the Los Padres mountains in Ventura County, Calif., offered to use helicopters to find and tranquilize the wolves, then move them to the preserve.
The pack, originally estimated at 11 animals — six adults and five pups — was cut in half in August after six of the wolves were killed. State officials authorized the exterminations following a series of attacks on livestock put out to graze on public land in the Colville National Forest.

Since mid-July, WDFW has confirmed that wolves from the Profanity Peak pack have killed or injured six cattle and possibly five others. The most recent incident occurred on Aug. 31, when a calf was killed, a WDFW spokesman said.

Simmons and Lindner said they began putting out feelers about their proposal after hearing of the state’s decision in August. Last week, they traveled from California to rural Ferry County to make a pitch directly to state and local officials about providing a nonlethal alternative at no cost the state.
“We knew it was a last-ditch effort,” Simmons said. “Bringing wolves into a sanctuary should be a last option, but we think it’s a viable one if the alternative is killing the animals.”

But according to WDFW officials, Simmons’ proposal is unworkable. “We know from experience that darting and capturing wolves when there’s no snow on the ground to slow them down isn’t practical,” Gardner said.

Reached Thursday, Simmons rejected the state’s assessment of his offer, adding that he would be open to adjusting the means of removing the wolves.

“People in your state seem to be determined to kill these animals even when there’s an offer to remove them that won’t cost the state a dime,” he said.

The fate of the remaining members of the wolf pack remains in limbo. The department is open to new strategies, but will continue to re-evaluate the situation at the end of each week to determine whether efforts to exterminate the pack should continue, said WDFW spokesman Craig Bartlett. What, if any, nonlethal strategies are being considered was not immediately made clear.

State policy authorizes “lethal removal” after confirming that wolves have preyed on livestock at least four times in one calendar year, or six times in two consecutive years. Livestock must have been confirmed to have been killed by wolves in at least one of the events.

The state’s Wolf Advisory Group is scheduled to hold meetings on wolf management policy in North Bend on Sept. 14 and 15.

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