For Immediate Release, September 4, 2020
Gov. Inslee Orders Rework of Washington’s Wolf-killing Policies
New Directive Reverses State’s Previous Rejection of Petition by Wolf Advocates
SEATTLE— In a win for wolf advocates, Gov. Jay Inslee directed the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today 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 reforms of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s lethal wolf-management policies.
“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.”
The new rules will address the use of nonlethal 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.”
“Demonstrating a commitment to environmental leadership, Gov. Inslee has put the Department on notice: It’s time for fair rules, and public transparency, when it comes to Washington’s iconic wolves,” said Samantha Bruegger, a wildlife coexistence campaigner at WildEarth Guardians.
“We are so encouraged by this action from Governor Inslee. Enforceable rules around wolf management that incentivize non-lethal techniques and ensure predictable agency responses have been necessary from the beginning. Rules eliminate knee-jerk responses that inflame parties on all sides and make the agency accountable to the public,” said Nick Cady, legal director at Cascadia Wildlands.
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.
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.
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.