Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 19, 2023


Sophia Ressler, Center for Biological Diversity, (206) 399-4004,

Legal Petition Seeks Enforceable Rules to Prevent Washington Wolf Killings

SEATTLE— Conservation groups petitioned the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Tuesday for rules requiring the use of nonlethal deterrence measures before killing wolves. The petition comes after the commission failed to adopt similar rules last year despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to undergo rulemaking.

“We won’t stop until Washington’s endangered wolves are treated according to best available science and these commonsense rules are the very least the commission can do,” said Sophia Ressler, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need enforceable rules to hold wildlife officials accountable and prevent conflict between livestock and wolves. It’s a clear win for everyone.”

The petition also seeks to clarify what the agency calls “caught-in-the-act” killings, which aim to protect livestock when wolves are actively attacking domestic animals. In the last six years, livestock owners or their agents shot 10 wolves under claimed “caught-in-the-act” circumstances, yet investigative reports by state wildlife law enforcement contradict some of those claims.

Currently Washington wildlife officials decide when to kill wolves based on a protocol drafted by the state’s Wolf Advisory Group, which includes ranchers and other members chosen by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. This protocol has been ineffective at addressing conflict between wolves and livestock, especially in the northeast part of the state. The state agency has killed 42 wolves on behalf of the livestock industry.

“We’re proposing rules to work within the department’s flawed framework, but we hope amendments will strengthen protections and stop the senseless slaughter of Washington’s wolves,” said Ressler.

The commission has 60 days to respond to the petition for rulemaking.

The petition was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Washington Wildlife First, Western Watersheds Project, Wild Earth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands, Animal Wellness Action, Center for a Humane Economy, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Endangered Species Coalition and Coexisting with Cougars in Klickitat County.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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