Perspectives on Washington’s wolves
Conservation Northwest / Aug 02, 2019 / Range Riding, Restoring Wildlife, Wolves
We support Washington’s science-based Wolf Plan and Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol, developed through careful deliberation by the Wolf Advisory Group (WAG) and its representatives from conservation, animal welfare, recreation, hunting and ranching communities.
We think Washington’s approach is the best conservation strategy for wolves in any Western state today. Through these policies and the collaborative work of the WAG, our wolf population continues to grow, expanding to more than 126 animals at the end of last year. While at the same time, the number of ranchers using proactive conflict deterrence measures is increasing, and livestock conflicts and wolf lethal removals remain low compared to other states.
Only four wolves, three percent of Washington’s wolf population, were removed by the state in 2018. In comparison, when the Rocky Mountain States of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming were at the same point 11 years into wolf recovery, lethal control for livestock depredations amounted to 142 wolves or 12 percent of their total minimum wolf count. Last year Montana killed more than 315 wolves between hunts and state removal. It’s not perfect and includes some reasonable compromise, but Washington is forging a very different path.
As distressing as persistent conflicts between some wolf packs and livestock are, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind: wolf recovery is progressing very well in Washington under careful, science-based policies.
We’re working hard to see that recovery continue while also supporting our colleagues in rural communities so that they can continue to thrive, too.
See our JULY 10, 2019 STATEMENT for more on the OPT Pack.
For more background, read this perspective from our Executive Director, Wolves, Collaboration and Coexistence, or our blogs on Understanding wolf-livestock science and Understanding wolf behavior.