For Immediate Release, March 17, 2017
Contact: Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613, email@example.com
Washington Wolf Numbers Increase for Seventh Year to 115 Wolves in 20 Packs
State Still Needs Improved Protocols to Avoid Livestock Conflict, Wolf Killings
OLYMPIA, Wash.— The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today that the state’s wolf population has grown to a minimum of 115 wolves, with 20 packs and 10 breeding pairs. The new estimate is up from 18 packs and 8 breeding pairs a year ago.
“It’s great news that wolves have continued to recover in Washington, but they still have a long way to go,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Strong state and federal protections are still needed to ensure these beautiful, ecologically important animals can recover fully in Washington.”
Wolf recovery in Washington has largely been driven by federal Endangered Species Act protection, which led to the reintroduction of wolves in adjacent Idaho and made it a crime to kill wolves. As wolves from Idaho and British Columbia began to disperse into Washington, the wolf population grew from zero wolves in 2007 to the estimated minimum 115 wolves in 20 packs announced by the state Fish and Wildlife department today.
The department has stepped up the number of cooperative agreements with livestock owners to use nonlethal conflict-prevention methods. Even so, in actions that outraged the public, last year the Fish and Wildlife department killed almost the entire Profanity Peak pack after livestock conflicts on public lands — despite a failure to employ suitable conflict deterrence measures.
“The vast majority of Washington residents want to see every effort made to recover wolves and are opposed to the unnecessary killing of these magnificent animals,” said Weiss. “We are working with other members of the conservation community to improve the Fish and Wildlife department’s responses to conflict. The figures released today by the department are cause for cautious celebration, but the end-of-year wolf count could have been seven higher had the Profanity Peak pack not been unnecessarily slaughtered.”
The Profanity Peak pack killing was the second time since 2012 that the agency has attempted to eradicate an entire wolf pack on behalf of the same livestock operation. And a third kill action took place for a different livestock operation in 2014, where livestock were also left unprotected. Published, peer-reviewed science is increasingly concluding that killing wolves to resolve conflicts can instead increase conflicts, reduce social tolerance for wolves, and be costlier and less effective in the long run than using nonlethal measures to reduce conflict.
Wolves are currently federally protected in the western two-thirds of Washington and protected everywhere in the state under state law. However, bills aimed at stripping wolves of state protections and preventing disclosure of information to the public about livestock-wolf conflicts have been introduced in the state legislature this session.