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Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Releases 2019 Wolf Report

April 21, 2020
Samantha Bruegger, WildEarth Guardians, 970-363-4191, sbruegger@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Wildlife   Gray wolf
#DefendCarnivores, #EndangeredSpeciesAct, #WildlandsForWildlife
Olympia, WA—The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released its 2019 State Wolf Report on Monday, April 20th, misleading the public about the success of wolf recovery by highlighting the overall population growth of wolves, rather than the loss of a successful breeding pair. Successful breeding pairs are a key metric for state wolf recovery outlined in the state Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. WDFW reported an 11% percent population increase, while not addressing the impacts of the loss of a successful breeding pair, bringing the state down to only 10 breeding pairs of wolves.

“It is imperative for WDFW to measure wolf recovery as outlined by the state’s management plan, rather than tout numbers that might be more acceptable for the public perception of the department” Said Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner at WildEarth Guardians. “Over here, in reality, we know that WDFW killed the entire Old Profanity Territory Pack on behalf of one corporate cattle rancher and spent nearly $130,000 taxpayer dollars to do it.”

The 2019 report also reveals that the department fully compensates the livestock industry for their losses with taxpayer dollars, in addition to the state killing wolves on their behalf. In fact, cattlemen who ranch on more than 100 acres of land are compensated for the full market value of two cows for every one cow killed by wolves. Livestock businesses can then receive even more dollars from the state by claiming indirect costs related to depredation. In one case, a rancher received upwards of $30,000 for his indirect costs.

“Unfortunately, even though taxpayer dollars are bestowed on cattlemen for cows lost to depredation, it is not enough to appease the livestock industry. Thus, in 2019, nine of Washington’s wolves were gunned down, with little accountability for those ranching on public land. We hope to see a standard of coexistence in the future, that is based on the best available science” Bruegger stated.

The 2019 State Wolf Report also gave a brief qualitative summary of outreach efforts and of WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group meetings. The controversy around two department funded range riders, who neglected to perform essential duties, which resulted in lethal wolf removal was not addressed. A loosely conducted wolf count showed a total population of wolves to be at 108, up from the 97 wolves reported in 2018. With the loss of the Old Profanity Territory Pack, total pack numbers declined from 22 established packs in 2018 to 21 packs in 2019.