In advance of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to strip federal protection for most gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states, the Agency denied Washingtonians the opportunity to testify in opposition by refusing to hold a public hearing in the Pacific Northwest. This did not go over well in Washington! In fact, over 100 citizens decided to host their own hearing on Sunday December 15th to oppose stripping federal protections for gray wolves.
The three hour rally and citizens hearing brought people together from across Washington. I was most impressed with the number of impassioned young people who attended the event and are clearly committed to making sure wolves don’t disappear in Washington again.The rally and citizens hearing, which was co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, received coverage by two of Seattle television stations.During the first part of the event, folks made beautiful, graphic and compelling signs supporting wolves. Some of the signs read: “Wolves have a niche in Nature, don’t scratch that niche” “Don’t delist” and “Howl for Wolves.”They also had an opportunity to meet and network with fellow activists while eating cake and enjoying each other’s camaraderie. Defenders board members Cassie Carroll and Ruth Musgrave did the honors of cutting the cake.Next came speeches a few speeches: The Endangered Species Act & the Wolf: A Story of Betrayal; Wolves and the Next Generation; Wilderness, Wilderness and Wolves; and Wolves in National Parks – More Important Than Just Eating Vampires. The lively crowd howled, laughed and booed when appropriate. The arts also graced this time with a reading of Mary Oliver’s poem Meeting Wolf and a captivating storytelling performance.
The afternoon was closed by riveting, compelling, poignant and at times funny testimony. Citizens recounted their encounters with wolves. A particularly compelling testimony came from a teenager who had an encounter with a wolf while cross-country skiing. Other speakers brought pictures of wolf prints from Washington’s Teanaway Pack, taken the day before. All participants echoed the sentiment that wolves play a vital role in maintaining healthy and viable habitat for all wildlife.The day ended with a chorus of howls and a pledge to work together on protecting our wildlife in Washington and across the United States.
–John Rosapepe, Defenders of Wildlife Washington State Outreach Representative