Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to let some state residents kill wolves attacking livestock, pets, etc.
by RALPH MAUGHAN on APRIL 30, 2013
One wolf per incident may be killed-
Readers: note my addition of an article by Bob Ferris
The wolf population in Washington State is growing nicely and especially in its NE corner. Residents are not allowed by the state to kill a wolf without a permit. This issue was faced in Idaho, Montana, etc. in the past where some people made the same demand — that they should be able to shoot a wolf without a permit when one is attacking.
Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Commission has faced the issue now and voted unanimously to create a temporary emergency rule for eight months. So, in Eastern Washington only, owners of pets or livestock will now be able to kill, without a permit, one attacking wolf.
I recall that when Idaho considered the issue. Many wolf conservationists opposed the rule, but once it was adopted not enough wolves were shot to make any wolf population difference in the state. It it hard to find wolves attacking and hard to shoot them when they are found. It might also be that attacks are overstated. Therefore, it could be argued, this is more of a symbolic issue than a solution to a problem which is itself of uncertain severity.
Some Washington commissioners wondered if the rule would frighten wolves and keep them away from livestock; one other thought it might scatter a pack and result in even more wolves. Because Idaho and Montana have now had a lot of wolf hunting, we should expect a body of knowledge exists that tells us how wolves and wolf packs react to having their members shot, but I am not aware of the state wildlife departments in the states having drawn any conclusions . . . perhaps because they don’t really care how wolves react.
The rule only applies to Eastern Washington because wolves are still federally protected under the ESA in most of the state. However, given the draft federal delisting rule nationwide, this prohibition will probably soon be dropped. Wolves are protected under Washington state law statewide regardless of federal classification.
Currently there are over 50 adult or sub-adult wolves in Washington. Some estimate the population is as high as a hundred wolves.
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A view from Bob Ferris
Bob Ferris at Cascadia Wildlands continues to write insightful columns on this and related issues.
Many will find his latest, Reasonable People Can Disagree, http://www.cascwild.org/reasonable-people-can-disagree-but/but… very perceptive. Ferris argues that while reasonable, intelligent people can disagree, there are those working in northeast Washington to make those who started out reasonable, unreasonable by engaging deliberately in widespread dissemination of rumor, ”anti-wolf rhetoric, untruths and fear mongering.”