Commissioners declare wolves a nuisance

Staff Writer

The board of Stevens County Commissioners have declared wolves within county lines to be a public nuisance. That declaration came at a September commissioners’ meeting in Colville.

Commissioners cited the harassment and depredation of livestock since the reintroduction of gray wolves to Northeast Washington.

“Public health and safety is in jeopardy due to unknown wolf movements,” the statement by the board said. “Wolf activity is negatively affecting the customs, culture, economic stability and sustainability and ecosystem function of Stevens County, which includes—not excludes—the human component.”

The proclamation was signed by commissioners Wes McCart, Steve Parker and Don Dashiell.

‘Wolf country’

The proclamation (which can be found on the Stevens County website) also said in part: “Stevens County citizens are suffering an undue, disproportionate burden due to wolf activity, and no citizen or group of citizens can bear the affliction placed on them by the actions of an unelected commission declaring wolves endangered.”

Wolves in “wolf country” continue to increase in numbers. Of 19 estimated wolf packs in Washington, 15 are said to live in eastern Washington.

In some areas, like Northeast Washington, the wolves have made a strong comeback. That has prompted calls for them to be delisted, especially as contact with humans and livestock have increased.

The state’s confirmed wolf population has increased from two wolves in one pack in 2008 to more than 90 in 19 packs by early 2016, according to WDFW.

Late last month, state wildlife managers said they killed another gray wolf in the Profanity Peak in Ferry County after predation of livestock grazing on public lands there continued.
WDFW said an adult wolf was shot by helicopter. That brings the number of wolves killed in that pack to seven.

The pack was targeted by WDFW for removal in August.

Wolves are endangered species under state law, but a state plan allows them to be killed under certain conditions. One of those conditions is predation on livestock.

To the east of the problematic Profanity pack, WDFW said they have investigated a livestock attack in the Smackout wolf pack area of the Colville National Forest near the Stevens County/Pend Oreille County line.

In 2015, the Smackout pack was said to have at least eight wolves.