The residents of Kittitas County have lived peacefully with the small pack of wolves living near it for several years, so when a female from the Teanaway Pack was found dead of a gunshot wound in October, wildlife advocates were stunned.
The death of this wolf, who was the only documented breeding female in Central Washington, is a huge blow to the species which remains on the state’s endangered list. The wolf population is in the 50s and counting in Washington, and it is a federal criminal act to shoot one, Kate Prengaman reported for the Yakima Herald-Republic.
The shooting is likely a result of unhappiness with the wolves’ return. However, most people are able to co-exist with the predator, such as Sam Kayser, who runs several hundred cow-calf pairs on public land pastures in the Teanaway area. Though he has seen signs of the wolves over the last few years, he hasn’t had any problems with killings and believes that with smart management, there should be room for both the predators and the livestock.
Many people are looking forward to finding a balance for the farms and the wolves, but first the Teanaway residents must get past some of the growing pains of reintroduction. “The world has changed and there are wolves here now,” Jay Kahne, Conservation Northwest, told Prengaman. “It’s really about people coming together to solve this. The biggest negative is that it takes people time to get used to it, but farm families and ranch families deserve a chance to figure it out.”