Coexistence with wildlife can only occur if the wildlife has somewhere to exist.
Catering to county commissioners, and cattle producers, the Forest Service, by the end of 2018, had allowed for 58 grazing allotments covering 810,000 acres in the Colville National Forest, which includes 1.1 million acres. Add to that, the Colville National Forest Plan (approved late last year) in northeast Washington allows for a meager amount of roadless area protected for wilderness (60,000 acres rather than the 200,000 acres requested). The plan included a major increase in logging – including clearcuts – up to 25,000 acres per year across the 1.1 million acre Colville Forest and above prior recommendations. The Colville’s 5-year logging levels are projected at 100 to 150 million board feet per year; a 75% annual increase of acres logged, along with a reduction, by 40%, of lands managed to protect wilderness qualities, or about a quarter of the 240,000 acres of wild forests.
By my calculations, here is an estimate of what this looks like for wildlife existence:
As you probably already know, lethal action against the wolves that call Colville National Forest home started early this year beginning with the authorization of removal of wolves from the Togo pack, and the Wedge pack (now exterminated). The state Department of Fish and Wildlife had wiped out the original Wedge Pack of wolves less than a year after adopting a plan to recover wolf populations in the state; the department killed seven of that eight-member pack in 2012, effectively destroying it, in an area where the terrain is so mountainous and heavily forested that it is nearly impossible to keep wolves and cattle separated.
Presently the Leadpoint pack has been targeted (minimum of 7 members at last count, in December/2019, prior to breeding season). Organizations as well as wolf advocates have made calls, sent letters and petition signatures to Governor Inslee asking him to please intervene, to no avail.
The Leadpoint pack is credited with attacks on livestock on private grazing lands. WDFW has documented twel6 depredation events resulting in three dead calves and ten injured calves since June 19, 2020 attributed to the Leadpoint pack. All events were considered confirmed wolf depredation incidents.
Requests to halt the “removal” of one to two members of the Leadpoint pack will also probably fall on deaf ears as the livestock operator chose not to utilize a USFS public grazing allotment due to wolf activity and instead has been grazing the cattle in a private, fenced pasture and utilized deterrence measures.
Presently, under 6% of the US population does not eat meat, and approximately just 2% is vegan. If, on the other hand, say 50% of the US population adopted at least a plant-based diet we would be well on our way to the “half for nature“ mark giving all wildlife the space and peace they deserve, not to mention an existence for wolves void of such tremendous hostility, add to that, enormous environmental benefits.
In the Colville National Forest here is how that would look:
Help save wolves, wildlife, and our planet and consider reducing your meat (and dairy) consumption or, better yet, embrace a vegan lifestyle.
“But for anyone who cares about our National Forests, building access roads and logging in the Colville’s treasured wildlands and thereby damaging sensitive waterways and consequently fish and wildlife populations is grossly irresponsible. The fisher has likely been extirpated from the CNF, and the grizzly bear, caribou, lynx, and others on the “sensitive species” list have also been extirpated or exist in the CNF in numbers well below their historic range. Furthermore, while CFP’s allowance for cattle grazing, which damages natural forest restoration, is questionable, allowing it in forest terrain which is prime wolf habitat is sheer foolishness.”
Press release issued by the Republic, Washington-based Kettle Range Conservation Group
Feature image by Ben Queenborough
Inset by Christian Houge