The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has placed collars equipped with GPS on some endangered gray wolves. This gives wildlife officials the ability to track the location of the collared wolves. They recently used this capability to locate a female wolf known to have been in the company of a male domesticated dog who had climbed his property’s fence and escaped. Officials used a helicopter to chase and shoot the female with a tranquilizer. Finding the wolf pregnant, officials captured her, killed all the unborn puppies, spayed her so she can never breed again and re-released her. Their reasoning:
“Our goal is restoration of a native wolf population, not producing a generation of hybrids we’d have to take care of in another way later,” said Donny Martorello, the Fish and Wildlife Department’s carnivore manager in Olympia.
“Spaying was a better alternative than trying to go out and kill all the pups after they’re born,” he said.
What’s your take on this incident? Is there any way that wildlife officials knew for certain the domesticated dog was the sire of one or more of the pups the wolf was carrying? Were the only two choices in this case killing the pups in utero or killing them after they were born? Are the actions of wildlife officials consistent with their stated goal of restoring the native wolf population?