Animal Emotions

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Whacking Wolves Washington Style

Wolf pack horrifically slaughtered by Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Just when you think you've heard it all you can now revel in disgust at what the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) did last week in the Northeast part of their state. In a nutshell, they yielded to some public pressure by some rich people who didn't want to try non-lethal methods and went out and eliminated six members of a pack of wolves, called the Wedge pack, by shooting them to death from various places including a helicopter. You can read the gory details here

Did the wolves really do what they were accused of?

Do they know wolves from this pack were responsible for the deaths at least 17 cows and calves on the Diamond M Ranch? No, they do not! The official reports reads, "Since July, Wedge Pack wolves are believed to have killed or injured at least 17 cows and calves from the herd of the Diamond M Ranch of northern Stevens County." I put the word "believed" in bold letters because these wolves were thought to have done something but it's not really known that they did! The convenient slide from "believed to have killed" to "having actually killed" and then being slaughtered by the WDFW is a bit too fast for me. But it clearly worked for those who did the killing and it's the easy way out because now no one has to worry about these wolves any longer. This is simply inexcusable and lame. 

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The killings were "inexcusable" says Washington state lawmaker

The criticisms of the murderous ways of the WDFW come from many different parties including a well-respected Washington state lawmaker. To quote from this article: "The chairman of the state Senate committee that oversees Washington's Department of Fish & Wildlife tells NBC News that the killing of a gray wolf pack in recent days was 'inexcusable' and that he is demanding answers about why the agency thought it was necessary. 'I find it inexcusable that we allowed ourselves to get to a place where killing the entire pack was the necessary decision when other non-lethal options – within the department and with ranchers – were not totally exhausted first,' said Sen. Kevin Ranker, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee. 'I find it ironic that the attacks on livestock that caused this situation ... took place on a ranch that has been outspoken about the removal of the pack and has refused to work with the department to implement prevention measures successfully adopted by other ranchers,' he added".

Killing wildlife is not what the WDFW is all about?

And here's a most lame comment by Phil Anderson, director of Washington's Department of Fish & Wildlife who yielded to the pressure to kill these wolves: "It was the hardest decision I've ever made both professionally as well as personally ... Going out and killing wildlife is not what this agency is all about." Yes it is, surely now, for you chose to kill these amazing sentient carnivores without knowledge that they were the culprits. And you killed the whole pack and tracked individuals who had clearly left the immediate area! You all put a lot of work into killing these wolves. And of course, it's your agency that issues hunting and fishing licenses that result in the killing of wildlife. So, you are indeed in the business of killing wildlife, in fact, lots of wildlife. 

Please voice your opinions: Cruelty can't stand the spotlight

The wolves can never be brought back but please write to Mr. Anderson and tell him how you feel about this inexcusable, reprehensible, and sanctioned slaughter. His email address is director@dfw.wa.gov and you can find more information here. And, please ask Mr. Anderson for a reasoned response, not some boilerplate "wipe" these agencies usually send out. He and the WDFW shouldn't be allowed to get away with their flimsy hand-waving dismissal of their egregious and inexcusable actions, as Senator Ranker noted. 

Please also contact Senator Kevin Ranker and thank him for speaking out against these killings. His email is Kevin.Ranker@leg.wa.gov and you can find out more about him here

Let's hope the reckless and violent decision to kill these wolves won't become precedent setting: "Well they did it in Washington, so we can do it here."

Remember, cruelty can't stand the spotlight and these killings are a good example of extreme and unnecessary cruelty. Surviving wolves and other wildlife depend on our goodwill, compassion, empathy, and hard work on their behalf. 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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