Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE -- In this Sept. 2, 2012 photo provided by the Colville Confederated Tribes, a gray wolf rests on the Colville Indian Reservation near Nespelem, Wash. Two tribal wildlife biologists captured and collared the female wolf. Eight conservation groups recently filed a petition asking the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to require livestock producers to exhaust nonlethal measures to prevent wolf depredations before any wolves are killed. (AP Photo/The Colville Confederated Tribes, File)
Conservationists seek nonlethal wolf controls
Petition » Filing with Washington agency seeks to require ranchers to exhaust nonlethal measures before killing gray wolves.
First Published Jun 21 2014 08:09 pm • Last Updated Jun 21 2014 08:09 pm

Spokane, Wash. » Eight conservation groups are complaining that it is too easy to kill wolves that attack livestock in Washington state.

The groups recently filed a petition asking the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to require that livestock producers first exhaust nonlethal measures to prevent wolf depredations before any wolves are killed.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The major impetus for the petition occurred in 2012, when Fish and Wildlife killed seven wolves in the Wedge Pack in northeastern Washington after they started preying on livestock.

Conservation groups contend the rancher in that case made little effort to protect his animals from wolves.

"The killing of the Wedge Pack in 2012 was a tragic waste of life that highlights the need for clear rules to limit the killing of wolves," said Amaroq Weiss, of the Center for Biological Diversity. "There are effective, nonlethal measures proven to protect livestock that can, and should, be used before killing wolves is ever considered."

Nonlethal means to control wolves include the use of range riders, fencing with plastic flags, and quick removal of prey carcasses.

Dave Ware, a manager for Fish and Wildlife, said the agency is still studying the petition and had not formulated a response.

Wolves have long provoked emotional reactions in the West.

The animals were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry.

They began to return to the state from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and their population has grown to at least 52 wolves today.


story continues below
story continues below

The gray wolf is listed as a state endangered species throughout Washington. It is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act everywhere west of Highway 97 in northeastern Washington.

But their return has not been universally hailed. Some ranchers and hunters vehemently opposed the return of the wolves, saying the animals prey on livestock and deer populations.

The conservation groups filed a similar petition last summer. They withdrew it based on a deal with Fish and Wildlife to negotiate rules that would encourage the use of nonlethal measures to control wolf numbers.

But ranchers and sports-hunting groups refused to consider the proposals, conservation groups said. The department then said it planned to introduce its own rules, but conservation groups say they do not go far enough in preventing the killing of wolves.

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association is upset by the petition.

In order for wolf recovery to work for everyone, the state must be able to kill problem wolves as soon as possible, said Jack Field, vice president of the Ellensburg-based group.

"They can’t fear legal ramifications from the environmental community," Field said.

If a wolf that preys on livestock is allowed to live, it will teach that behavior to the rest of the pack and then the entire pack has to be destroyed, Field said.

Cattlemen and hunting advocates contend that in the northern Rocky Mountains, where wolf hunting is allowed, successful wolf recovery generally means that up to half the population must be killed to prevent them from decimating cattle herds and other wildlife, Field said.

Ultimately, the interests of the environmental community and the cattlemen and hunters may be incompatible, Field said.

"I seriously question if the Center for Biological Diversity shares the same goal for wolf management as I do," Field said. "I think this is pretty close to an insurmountable rift."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.