Washington Governor Jay Inslee ordered the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to consider new rules related to the lethal removal of wolves that injure or kill livestock, a victory for environmental groups seeking to limit or end predator management.
Similar requests came before the commission several times over the past decade. The most recent petition filed in 2023 is like petitions received from many of the same people and/or organizations. Commissioners voted on these petitions or wolf-livestock conflict deterrence rules in 2014, 2020, 2022, and 2023, rejecting them each time.
“The governor’s actions undermine the commission – a body comprised of nine people he vetted and appointed – as well as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and its Wolf Advisory Group, which includes one RMEF staffer among its other everyday citizens,” said Ryan Bronson, RMEF director of government affairs. “Depredation of livestock is a significant concern of the agriculture community and lethal removal is a proven management technique. Unfortunately, Washington is increasingly politicizing wildlife management.”
WDFW staff will meet with the commission to follow the governor’s orders and make the new rules available for public comment.
WDFW’s latest annual report estimates a minimum of 216 wolves across the state, its highest modern day wolf population to date. It also shows WDFW spent more than $1.6 million on wolf management activities during 2022.
RMEF maintains that wolves should be sustainably managed by state agencies just as they manage elk, black bears, deer, mountain lions and other wildlife in line with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)