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This Wolf Family Is About To Be Killed For Feeding Their Babies

"To give cattle [farming] priority over the recovering wolf population is the definition of insanity."

Two more gray wolves will face an untimely end in the Pacific Northwest this summer, dropping pack numbers after years of careful conservation.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced its plans to kill two adult members of a wild wolf family, known as the Harl Butte pack, last week, in an effort to control livestock depredation. Oregon appears to be following in Washington state’s footsteps, where a similar death sentence was issued to members of the Smackout pack in late July.

Unlike Washington state’s gray wolf population, which is still protected, the species in Oregon has been delisted from the state’s Endangered Species Act since 2015. Wallowa County ranchers requested “lethal control” after seven cattle attacks took place over the past 13 months, reports Northwest Public Radio. Ranchers lobbied for a complete removal of the pack from the area, which the ODFW denied — however, Oregon wolves are far from safe.

In this chronic situation, lethal control measures are warranted,” Roblyn Brown, ODFW’s acting wolf coordinator, said in a release. “We will use incremental removal to give the remaining wolves the opportunity to change their behavior or move out of the area.”

Seven wolves were members of the Harl Butte pack in March, and it is believed that the pack now includes 4-month-old weaned pups. During this time of year, wolf activity is typically centered around caring for the youngest members of the pack. Breeding takes place in February, and from late April through September the pack stays close to its den site, so adult wolves can hunt for the pups and return to feed them.

Because wolves don’t travel as much during the summer months, when they have babies in tow, there’s more likely to be run-ins with ranchers and livestock — which likely led to the death order on this pack.

"The wolves have young pups and are not able to travel great distances for food," Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, told The Dodo. "Their only choice then is to prey on livestock ... To give cattle priority over the recovering wolf population is the definition of insanity."

According to the Oregon wildlife officials’ 2016 wolf program summary, there are only 112 known wolves in Oregon. Wolf advocates fear that this planned killing may be a nasty hit to the burgeoning wolf population.

If ODFW kills these wolves, it will demonstrate that Oregon has a failed wildlife agency and a broken wolf management plan,” Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild, said in a release. “It’s clear now that Governor Brown needs to step in and reform this failing agency so that the public can trust that its wildlife is being protected.”

The ODFW will cull two adult wolves from the pack by trapping or shooting as soon as possible and reevaluate the situation. If another cattle attack happens, lethal force may again be on the table.

To advocate for the lives of these wolves, contact the office of Governor Kate Brown. To learn more about the wolf population of Oregon and protection efforts, check out Oregon Wild.