The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today denied a petition filed by eight conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, seeking to limit when wolves can be killed in response to livestock depredations, and to require ranchers to use nonlethal measures before any lethal action can be taken. The petition was filed to prevent lethal actions such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2012 decision to kill seven wolves in the Wedge Pack. Petitioners plan to appeal the commission’s decision to the governor.
Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia. Wolf recovery in the area is, however, still in its infancy. According to the department’s annual wolf report, Washington’s wolf population grew by only one wolf, from 51 to 52 animals, during 2013. In the past year, three wolves were killed by mountain lions, one wolf was illegally poached, and another was killed by a deer hunter. In the face of these threats, it is essential that more wolves are not lost from the state’s tiny wolf population because of state-sanctioned lethal control actions that ignore proven, nonlethal methods of conflict prevention.
“Wolf-livestock conflicts are so rare and, what’s more — they are preventable,” said Rebecca Wolfe, Wolf Advisory Group member for the Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Let’s get some rules in place to reflect that reality and also to recognize that lethal control of an endangered species should be an absolutely last resort.”
Original article available here.