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Advocates cry foul as Washington grants taxpayer money to private, anti-wildlife group
Olympia, WA—Wolf advocates have sounded the alarm and requested that the Washington Attorney General investigate whether state money should be going to groups intent on killing gray wolves. The Washington Department of Agriculture has awarded Cattle Producers of Washington (“CPoW”) nearly $150,000 for equipment that can make tracking and killing wolves easier. Conservation and wildlife activists say this is a clear conflict of interest and goes against the will of the Washington public, which overwhelmingly supports healthy and protected wolf populations.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has the authority to manage the state’s recovering wolf population. The Department’s efforts are guided, in part, by a diverse set of stakeholders called the Wolf Advisory Group. Unfortunately, the individuals represented on this grant withdrew from participation in this group. Public money going to private groups is a clear departure from the norm and raises serious concerns about how that money will be spent.
“We should be gravely concerned that the livestock industry—with long history of killing wolves—is being given public money to ‘manage’ these native species…It’s the fox guarding the henhouse, except the fox is being given all the tools it needs to make killing hens easier” stated Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner at WildEarth Guardians.
Cattle Producers of Washington has a history of antagonism towards wolves and the group’s president is behind suggestive, inflammatory, anti-wildlife billboards. The specifics of the grant application are especially alarming to wolf advocates. Among the equipment that will be paid for by the grant is ATVs and live streaming trail cameras. Additionally, the grant application states the need to have more wolves collared and for access to telemetry data from the collars. Wolf advocates argue that this will lead to more wolf killings.
“This vigilante approach to wildlife policy takes decisions out of the hands of a public agency and gives them to a fringe group intent on killing native carnivores,” said Bruegger “It is imperative that WDFW deny the request for collars and location data—the agency needs to do more to protect wolves, not put them in harm’s way.”
WildEarth Guardians has sent a letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson asking that his office investigate any conflict of interests associated with granting public funds to the Cattle Producers of Washington for wolf management.