Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 28, 2023

Contact:

Amaroq Weiss, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org

Washington Governor Urged to Order New Rules to Reduce Wolf-Killing

SEATTLE— Conservation groups have filed an appeal asking Gov. Jay Inslee to order the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to draft enforceable rules that limit when the state can kill endangered wolves for conflicts with livestock.

The appeal, filed late Monday, seeks a reversal of the commission’s Oct. 28 denial of the groups’ formal petition for enforceable livestock-wolf conflict rules.

“The governor has already directed state wildlife managers to reduce wolf killing in response to livestock conflicts, but stronger action is clearly needed,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Despite Gov. Inslee’s clear orders, the state is killing more wolves than ever. With no rules in place to make wolf-killing a last resort, we expect things will get even worse.”

Since 2012, 53 state-endangered wolves have been killed in Washington for actual or claimed conflicts. Of those killed, 75% have been killed by the state on behalf of the same livestock-owning family, which fails to take adequate steps to protect its cattle. And 75% of those wolves killed have been shot for conflicts that occurred on public lands. Sixteen of the wolves, or nearly one-third of all those killed, were shot in just the past three years.

In 2019 Gov. Inslee asked that wolf managers “significantly reduce the need for lethal removal of this species.” In 2020 Gov. Inslee again directed state wildlife managers to amend their rules when he granted an appeal filed by wildlife conservationists.

Because the commission still has not adopted rules, wildlife groups filed a new wolf rulemaking petition in September. This week’s appeal seeks a reversal of the commission’s October denial of that rulemaking petition.

The groups proposed amending an existing rule to provide clarity to the agency, livestock operators and the public. Requested amendments would:

  • Require livestock operators to use appropriate nonlethal methods to prevent conflict between livestock and wolves before the agency could consider killing wolves.
  • Require the agency to develop mitigation plans for areas of chronic conflict.
  • Establish standards for what constitutes effective range riding to best protect livestock.
  • Prohibit killing of wolves on public lands or for conflicts that occur on public lands.
  • Set basic limits on the number of wolves that could be killed and length of time a kill order could remain open.

Additional requested amendments would restore the “caught in the act of attacking” provision to its original form as it existed in the 2011 state wolf plan. Under the expanded version adopted in 2013, in more than two-thirds of the incidents the evidence has shown wolves were not in fact attacking when they were shot and killed.

“The commission has missed multiple opportunities over the past decade to adopt rules to reduce wolf killing and lessen livestock losses,” said Weiss. “The governor himself has demanded the same, twice. Unfortunately, the state wildlife department continues to ignore the science and mislead the public, and that harms wolves, livestock, science and trust in state wolf management.”

This week’s appeal was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Washington Wildlife First, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Animal Wellness Action/Center for a Humane Economy, Endangered Species Coalition, Coexisting with Cougars in Klickitat County and Predator Defense.

The governor has 45 days to decide whether to overrule the commission’s decision. If he does so, a rulemaking process would start, and the agency would seek public input on new rules.

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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