SEATTLE— The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee today asking that his administration manage wolves according to science and consistent with the wishes of most Washingtonians — instead of making political compromises to satisfy the livestock industry.
Along with the letter, the group submitted the signatures of 532,836 people from Washington and across the country that oppose the state’s ongoing killing of wolves for conflicts with cattle.
“Governor Inslee’s administration hails the importance of science, but not when it comes to the state’s endangered wolves,” said Sophia Ressler, a Washington wildlife advocate and staff attorney at the Center. “State wildlife agencies fall abysmally short of what the Governor claims are his high science-based standards. He needs to step in and dramatically change that dynamic.”
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages wolves under a protocol, which a citizen advisory group helped create through a facilitated consensus process. That process prevents decision-making informed by science and through public participation in hearings at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The Center’s letter requests that Inslee spearhead revisions to the state’s wolf-livestock interaction protocol so wolf-management policy can instead be developed through a public process informed by science. The science shows that nonlethal measures effectively reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock and that killing wolves can create conflicts, reduce social tolerance for wolves, and increase poaching.
“These misguided, unscientific policies spur an endless cycle of killing wolves,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center. “Governor Inslee has the insight to know that environmental issues, like the recovery and conservation of an endangered species, require science-based solutions. We urge him to intervene on behalf of Washington’s wolves.”
The Center’s letter also requests that the state officially oppose the Trump administration plan to strip nearly all gray wolves of their federal Endangered Species Act protection.
This spring Washington’s fish and wildlife department sent a letter of support to the Trump administration for its pending proposal to strip wolves of federal protection across nearly the entire lower 48 states, including parts of Washington where wolves are still federally protected. An expert panel of scientists roundly criticized the plan as not based on the best available science. Both California and Oregon oppose the federal delisting proposal.
Only 126 confirmed wolves lived in Washington at the end of 2018, in 27 packs and with 15 confirmed breeding pairs. Washington’s gray wolves are fully protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington, and throughout the state under state endangered species law.
Over the past seven years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has killed 22 state-endangered wolves for conflicts with livestock, 18 of which for the same livestock producer. Most killings occur on public lands.
Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of livestock owners. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a slow comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia.