PROTECTION OF CATTLE AGAINST WOLVES IN WASHINGTON – In Washington state, there is a seemingly never-ending conflict between protecting cattle from wolves, and protecting the wolves themselves.  Ranchers are able to call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) when their cattle is being attacked.  After having three attacks within three months, or four attacks in ten months, officials are then allowed to use lethal force to remove the wolves that preyed on the rancher’s herd of cattle.  31 wolves have been killed under this program since 2012.  However, environmentalists and other groups advocating for wolf protection believe that killing wolves that attack cattle is unnecessary, and that other, non-lethal measures can be put in place to help protect ranch animals.

Out of the 31 wolves, 26 have been killed on the Diamond M Ranch, which sits along the U.S.-Canada border in northeast Washington.  Bill McIrvin, fourth-generation rancher of Diamond M, stated that he has lost approximately $1 million over the past eleven years.  Due to wolves killing 75 to 100 head of cattle per year.  McIrvin is a strong believer in his right to have his cattle graze on public land, and also a strong opponent of the presence of wolves in his home state.

Environmentalist groups insist that instead of using lethal force, the most appropriate action is to use state-funded range riders.  Range riders use proactive, non-lethal measures to keep cattle and wolves separate.  They also accuse Diamond M of keeping their cattle too close to wolf dens, and other areas that make them increasingly vulnerable to attacks.

Using range riders is not mandatory.  The WDFW stated that Diamond M declined to use any.  McIrvin stands by his belief that wolf reintroduction will be destructive to the ranching industry.  He believes that the groups promoting range riding are not truly aware of the threat that wolves bring.  However, environmentalists continue to argue that wolves help to enhance the health of the overall surrounding ecosystems.

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