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Good News for Wolves in Washington
SEATTLE— In good news for wolves and wolf advocates alike, today Gov. Jay Inslee directed the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to draft new rules governing the killing of wolves involved in conflicts with livestock. This action reverses the commission’s denial of a petition filed by advocates in May that called for reform of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s lethal wolf-management policies.
“Demonstrating a commitment to environmental leadership, Gov. Inslee has put the Department on notice: It’s time for better rules, and public transparency, when it comes to Washington’s iconic wolves. The killing of the entire Wedge Pack this year was unacceptable; it has happened before and it should never happen again,” said Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner at WildEarth Guardians.
The new rules will address the use of science-backed non-lethal measures to avoid livestock-wolf conflicts. They will likely further examine chronic conflict areas where the state has killed wolves year after year.
The state has killed 34 wolves since 2012. Twenty-nine were killed for the same livestock owner in prime wolf habitat in the Colville National Forest. After the Fish and Wildlife Commission denied the wolf advocates’ petition in June, the groups appealed to the governor, who had 45 days to decide whether to deny the appeal or require the commission to create new wolf-management rules.
Gov. Inslee’s decision requires the commission to start a formal rulemaking process, which includes giving notice to the public and creating an opportunity to comment on proposed rules. The timeline for this process will be available on the department’s website when the rulemaking is announced.
“The governor’s decision to approve this petition is a necessary step in cleaning up the mess the Department has made of wolf management,” said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington and Montana director for Western Watersheds Project. “This decision will give a voice to the majority of Washingtonians that do not want to see wolves needlessly slaughtered year after year at the charge of a few livestock producers.”
“This is a tremendous victory for Washington’s wolves and all of us who have been speaking out against the state’s relentless wolf-killing,” said Sophia Ressler, a Washington wildlife advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re hopeful that the development of enforceable wolf-management rules will finally protect our recovering wolf population and make wildlife officials accountable to the public they serve.”