KING COUNTY – The lone surviving member of the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) wolf pack has been spared by the stroke of a federal judge’s pen.
The ruling was made on Friday, only days after the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced it had already eliminated four of the pack’s five members in an effort to curtail their depredation of livestock.
The lawsuit was filed by a pair of Seattle residents with the backing of the animal rights group Center for a Humane Economy, which is based in Washington D.C.
The suit had initially sought a restraining order to prevent the lethal removal of wolves from the OPT pack, which was denied by the judge.
In Friday’s ruling, however, the same judge found that “due diligence on non-lethal methods” had not been properly explored by the state and ranchers who were impacted by the predations.
“Having to carry out lethal removals of wolves is a difficult situation and something the department takes very seriously,” said Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman in an email to the Spokesman Review. “WDFW makes every effort to make a responsible decision after considering the available evidence. We appreciate the time the court put into reviewing this material and will work with the court throughout the process ahead.”
The suit contends the WDFW acted illegally and failed to properly follow the policies of the state’s Wolf Advisory Group by reauthorizing the order to lethally remove the OPT pack.
The OPT inhabits the same area as the Profanity Peak Pack, which the state killed seven members of in 2016.