SPOKANE (AP) – The state of Washington says it will kill wolves from two more packs that have been preying on cattle.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Wednesday that it will kill members of the Smackout Pack in Stevens County and members of the Togo Pack in Ferry County.

Agency director Kelly Susewind says wolves from the two packs continue to prey on cattle despite efforts to get them to stop.

The agency says wolf hunts could begin on Thursday.

Last month the state decided to kill the remaining two wolves from the Old Profanity Peak Territory Pack.

Conservation groups have criticized the killing of wolves, a protected species, to save cattle that are grazing on public lands.

Wolves began a rapid return to Washington state in 2008, after being trapped, poisoned and hunted to local extinction here in the early 1900s. Their numbers have grown from just a handful in 2008 to at least 122 today, according to WDFW’s latest count. Most live in rugged areas of northeast Washington. Wolves’ return to Washington has stirred controversy and even death threats as ranchers, conservationists, scientists and politicians spar over how to handle conflicts.