By the state’s count, barely 200 wolves exist in its borders since their return in 2008. Bringing gray wolves back this far is a success–but the state wildlife agency is killing wolves and threatening future progress.
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is responsible for conserving and preserving wildlife in the state. Despite this, it has repeatedly killed gray wolves that have allegedly fed on cattle, often on public lands. Just weeks ago, they took to a helicopter to gun down a wolf from a pack they believed had fed on cattle and mistakenly killed a wolf pup from a neighboring pack instead.
This absence of professionalism and policy guidance is threatening a very fragile wolf recovery in the state.
And the state’s hired guns aren’t wolves’ only problem. The state confirmed that six wolves recently died a slow and painful death by poisoning at the hands of an unknown attacker. The public sentiment and anti-wolf culture that the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife allows to fester through its own wolf killing is spreading to the public.
Governor Inslee must reign in this agency. More than two years ago, the Governor ordered the Department of Fish & Wildlife to draft new rules governing the use of non-lethal measures that need to be used before the killing of wolves is considered for animals involved in conflicts with livestock. But the commission that oversees the Department voted not to implement these rules–defying the Governor and continuing on its current, dead end path of wolf killing.
The report identified a series of solutions that could foster coexistence between native gray wolves and the livestock ranchers that the Department thinks it is protecting by killing wolves. Requiring that non-lethal measures such as range riders, deterrent lighting, fladry, or specially trained dogs be used before the state kills wolves could benefit everyone. But the commission ignored those recommendations to pursue the same destructive policies that Governor Inslee appeared to be trying to end.
It is time for Governor Inslee to clean house. He will shortly have the opportunity to appoint three seats on the nine member commission. These appointments can result in change that will save wolves, but he needs to act.
The Endangered Species Coalition’s Pacific Northwest Representative is working to mobilize support for this action and to continue to pressure the Department to act. Two hundred wolves is a fragile success that is being put in jeopardy every day this agency prioritizes livestock ranchers over conservation. Please support this work to save wolves with your gift today.