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September 28, 2012 at 5:14 AM

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Wedge wolf, if you are out there, run for your life

If Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife estimate is correct, there's an outside chance that one lonely wolf remains from the Wedge pack in the northeast corner of Washington state.

If so, here's some advice: Flee to Canada. It’s only seven miles away, well within your range since you probably came here from there or from Wyoming, Idaho or Montana. Save yourself. Go back where you came from because plans are to wipe out the whole pack.

The wildlife department estimated that the pack had at least eight animals before one was shot earlier this summer. Six have been killed this week, including the alpha male and female, by marksmen firing from a helicopter.

That leaves the outside possibility of one lone wolf left from the Wedge pack. The department has ended its "lethal removal," but just to be safe, canis lupis, head north.

The wildlife department said all the animals had to be killed because they had become dependent on killing and eating livestock to survive. Since July, the wolves may have killed or injured 17 cows and calves.

NBC News interviewed Dave Ware, a spokesman for the wildlife department, who said, “The concept of killing an endangered species to promote recovery is difficult to understand or accept.”

He got that right.

There are at least eight wolf packs in Washington state . . . oops, make that seven . . . , and Ware says lethal removal hasn’t stopped the re-establishment of wolves, which had been hunted almost to extinction a century ago. The Wedge area, he says, is such good habitat the wolves will probably return in the next year or two.

But won’t that mean lethal removal for them once again unless something is done to keep livestock and wolves separated?

Maybe a first step in that direction is writing into agreements with ranchers who have grazing rights on public lands that livestock's lethal contact with wildlife is a risk ranchers have to accept. Wolf kills on private property would be compensated as they are now, but if it happens on wolf turf, that’s the call of the wild.

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