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Positive Steps for Washington’s Wolves, Thanks to Governor Inslee

Although Washington’s wolves still face many challenges, the state-endangered wolves received a much-needed show of support last week when Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter directing the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to initiate a new rulemaking relating to wolf management.

Please consider thanking Governor Inslee for his support of wolf conservation!

The letter comes after WDFW killed the entire Wedge pack earlier this summer to protect cows. A kill order for up to 2 members of the Leadpoint wolf pack is also still in effect; sharpshooters have been trying to kill the wolves since August 13th.

WDFW has killed 34 state-endangered wolves since 2012 to protect cows and benefit private industry.


Last fall, Washington Governor Jay Inslee instructed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to better support co-existence between Washington’s livestock industry and the recovering population of endangered gray wolves. In his letter, Governor Inslee instructed WDFW to “make changes in the gray wolf recovery program to further increase the reliance on non-lethal methods, and to significantly reduce the need for lethal removal of this species… The status quo of annual lethal removal is simply unacceptable.”

On Friday, September 4, 2020, Inslee sent another letter that reads, in part:

“We must move more quickly and decisively to institute practices that will avoid the repeated loss of wolves and livestock in our state.”

“While I cannot legally prescribe the specific policies that must be included in this new rule, I ask that DFW include clear and enforceable measures in the proposed rule to achieve the following management outcomes:

  • Standardized definition and requirements for the use of range riders;
  • Requirements for use of non-lethal deterrents most appropriate for specified situations (wolf population and range, size and location of livestock operation, terrain and habitat, history of depredation);
  • Action plans in areas of chronic depredation to end the need for annual lethal removal; and,
  • Compliance measures where livestock operators do not implement the required non-lethal measures.

“Given the significant work that has been done to date on this topic, I strongly believe new rules and policies could, and should, be adopted and in place prior to the grazing season next year.”

Read the letter in full here.

Gov. Inslee’s order comes just days after a full-page advertisement paid for by Predator Defense appeared in Sunday’s Seattle Times. In part, the ad read, “If enough of us speak out, putting pressure on Governor Jay Inslee and WDFW, we can stop this insane, wrongful and counter-productive war on wolves.”

Governor Inslee accepted the July 23rd appeal from the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Watersheds Project, and WildEarth Guardians, which challenged the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision to deny the conservation groups’ May 11th petition to amend current wolf management rules. The petition argued that current rules fail to prioritize non-lethal management of endangered wolves.

At the time of the petition, the state had killed 31 wolves since 2012. WDFW killed three additional wolves since, and a kill order for up to two more wolves from the Leadpoint wolf family is still in effect.