For Immediate Release, June 26, 2020
Sophia Ressler, Center for Biological Diversity, (206) 399-4004, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746, email@example.com
Jocelyn Leroux, Western Watersheds Project, (406) 960-4164, firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha Bruegger, WildEarth Guardians, (970) 363-4191, email@example.com
SEATTLE— The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission rejected a petition today that called for new rules to limit when the state can kill endangered wolves for conflicts with livestock.
The petition, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians, sought mandatory measures to prevent conflicts that have led to the killing of dozens of wolves in the state.
“We’re incredibly disappointed that the commission rejected efforts to fix Washington’s broken wolf-management system,” said Sophia Ressler, a Washington-based staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Enforceable rules are crucial to fixing the mismanagement of our state’s endangered wolves. The status quo will continue to fail Washington’s wolves and all who care about them.”
The petition, filed in May, requested rules that would require livestock producers to use appropriate non-lethal deterrence measures to prevent conflict in an effort to avoid lethal control actions.
The petition also proposed additional rules in locations with consistent conflict, such as the Kettle River Range, the traditional lands of the Okanagan and Sinixt peoples. Of the 31 wolves killed by the state since 2012, 19 were in the Kettle River Range, and 26 have been killed on behalf of the same livestock operation.
“The state is annually spending scarce public dollars killing entire packs of wolves at the behest of a single livestock producer, and it is having impacts on the species’ recovery,” said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands. “We are hopeful the governor’s office will step in here and make the right decision.”
“It’s disappointing that the commission voted to continue with its pointless and ecologically destructive wolf-killing program,” said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington and Montana director for Western Watersheds Project. “This will only mean more avoidable deaths for livestock and for wolves.”
“Yet again, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has failed the public in favor of private business,” said Samantha Bruegger, a wildlife coexistence campaigner at WildEarth Guardians. “It’s time for rules that reflect sound, scientifically proven, nonlethal wildlife coexistence policy, rather than the whims and emotions of the livestock industry.”
According to the state’s recently released annual wolf report, a new pack now lives in the same area where the Department of Fish and Wildlife killed the entire Old Profanity Territory pack in August 2019. That area of prime wolf habitat is where the department wiped out the Sherman pack in 2017 and the Profanity Peak pack in 2016.
The groups have 30 days to appeal the commission’s decision to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. The governor could then overrule the commission’s decision and require that a rulemaking be initiated, which would open a comment period to 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.
Cascadia Wildlands defends and restores Cascadia’s wild ecosystems in the forests, in the courts, and in the streets. We envision vast old-growth forests, rivers full of salmon, wolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental conservation group working to protect and restore wildlife and watersheds throughout the American West.
WildEarth Guardians (www.wildearthguardians.org) is a conservation nonprofit whose mission is to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, and over 278,000 members and supporters worldwide.