**UPDATE: Independent peer reviewers have rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to delist the gray wolf. Click here to learn more. **
Arizona Attacks Mexican Gray Wolves
Last week’s release of population numbers for Mexican gray wolves was disappointing, but this week there is something really atrocious to yowl about. The Arizona Senate Government and Environment Committee approved three measures that, quite literally, place a target on lobos, and could devastate future recovery efforts. This imperiled population of only 83 wolves now face a triple threat from local legislators including: a proposed bill from Senator Gail Griffin that would allow Arizonans to trap and kill Mexican gray wolves despite federal law; a second bill that appropriates $250,000 in state money to fund state litigation to block federal recovery efforts; and finally, a resolution from Griffin that derails recovery by shifting management control to the state in order to halt reintroduction efforts. This action was aptly described in a recent Arizona Republic editorial: “Lobos remain perilously close to extinction’s cliff, and Arizona’s Legislature is poised to give them a shove over the edge.” Defenders’ own Craig Miller attended the committee hearing where the proposals were heard, and explained that these measures undermine the progress made to save this critically endangered population. Miller said that the focus needs to be on amping up wolf-rancher coexistence efforts, not paving the way for a one-shot-in-the-head policy for wolves. If you are an Arizona resident, you can help the lobos by submitting letters to the editor and writing and calling your local representatives. More information here.
Gov. Otter’s Lethal Wolf Control Board Moves Closer to Becoming Law in Idaho
You’ve likely heard of Gov. Butch Otter’s egregious state Wolf Control Board that he proposes to give $2 million in taxpayer dollars to implement lethal wolf control programs throughout Idaho. Last week, a bill to authorize this board gained traction in Idaho’s state legislature. The bill will be considered in the coming days by the Idaho House Resources and Conservation Committee. When Governor Otter announced his plans for this wolf killing program in his State of the State address, he made it quite clear that he will do anything in his power to kill as many wolves as possible, short of requiring a relisting of the species. He said: “One form of growth we don’t want to encourage is in the wolf population that was imposed on Idaho almost 20 years ago…[w]e’re managing them now, and they’re a trophy hunting species. But the population is still growing, and our resources remain at risk. So I’m calling for establishment of a Wolf Control Fund and a State board to direct and manage it.” The state legislators forwarding the bill say the plan is to kill as many as 450 wolves in Idaho, bringing numbers as low as 150 statewide. In other words, this plan would endorse the killing of 75 percent of the minimum wolf population in Idaho. Right now we are asking our Idaho members to contact their state representatives to request a hearing on the proposed bill. In the future, we will be activating members in Idaho to submit comments, continue to call their representatives, attend hearings, and more. In the meantime, our local wolf experts are already having conversations with state officials. Defenders will continue to petition Gov. Otter to demand that he use taxpayer funds only for non-lethal wolf management. Stay tuned for more; we’ll be watching this issue closely. Click here to support our work.
Will Washington State Become the Next Idaho in its Management of Wolves?
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) has announced a new wolf management protocol that will remove important safeguards for recovering wolf packs in the state. The new protocol lowers the bar for killing wolves and would allow state and federal officials to kill an entire pack of wolves for only two conflict incidents with livestock – one of which could be just a minor injury. This week, Defenders of Wildlife sent Governor Inslee a letter and asked Washingtonians to call his office requesting that he work with WDFW to rescind this protocol until experts and the public have an opportunity to provide further input on this matter. Defenders also objects to recent efforts by WDFW prematurely including wolves as a “game species” in a new Game Management Plan for 2015-2021, the document that sets the guidelines for hunting wildlife in the state.
In a statement to the press, Defenders President, Jamie Rappaport Clark, said: “Wolves are only just beginning to reestablish themselves in Washington, but already game officials in the state are trying to find ways to reduce protection for them and make it easier to kill them…Unfortunately, recent actions taken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife suggest that Washington is taking its lead on wolf management from vehement anti-wolf states like Idaho and Wyoming where wolves are treated like vermin instead of being managed like other species of wildlife. The better wolf management model to follow is Oregon which has adopted management policies for wolves that are more balanced, effective and sustainable.”
We hope Governor Inslee is successful in reversing of WDFW’s recent action on wolves as the species is still struggling to recover in the state. Defenders will continue to work with local members to advocate for full recovery of wolves in Washington state and against harmful policies that affect recovery.