WSU professor in hot water over remarks about wolf pack

By: 
CHRIS COWBROUGH
S-E Editor

A volatile issue heats up

Washington State University last week attempted to distance itself and disavow comments from one of the university’s professors about a wolf pack in Northeast Washington that has been targeted by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife for killing cattle.

In a news release issued last Wednesday, the university and its WSU College of Human and Natural Resource Sciences said some of the statements made by researcher and associate professor Rob Wielgus about the killing of the Profanity Peak pack weren’t accurate--or appropriate.

“Some of Dr. Wielgus’ statements in regard to this controversial issue have been both inaccurate and inappropriate,” the news release stated. “As such, they have contributed substantially to the growing anger and confusion about this significant wildlife management issue and have unfairly jeopardized the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wolf Advisory Group’s many months long stakeholder process.

“The statements do not in any way represent the views or position of Washington State University or the WSU College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. These statements are disavowed by our institutions.”

Not accurate

In an article published by the Seattle Times on August 25, Dr. Wielgus, Director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at WSU, said a Northeast Washington rancher had “elected to put his livestock directly on top of (the wolves’) den site.

“In fact, the rancher identified in the article did not intentionally place livestock at or near the den site of the Profanity Peak wolf pack, and Dr. Wielgus subsequently acknowledged that he had no basis in fact for making such a statement.”

The livestock were released at low elevation on the east side of the Kettle Crest more than four miles from the den site and dispersed throughout the allotments based on instructions found in the annual operating instructions.

The CC mountain allotment is more than 30,000 acres and livestock are generally moved from pasture to pasture following an established rotation.

Dr. Wielgus also said in the Times story that the rancher had also “refused to radio-collar his cattle to help predict and avoid interactions with radio-collared wolves” and that there had been no documented “cattle kills among producers who are participating in research studies and very few among producers using Fish and Wildlife protocol.”

In fact, the Diamond M Ranch has held a long-term grazing permit for 73 years and has worked with both the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service in the management of livestock in order to avoid conflict (following procedures outlined by the Washington Wolf Advisory Group).

Read the full story in the Statesman-Examiner's Sept. 7, 2016 edition.

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