Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 4, 2017

Contact:  Amaroq Weiss, Centerfor Biological Diversity, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org, (707) 779-9613
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, nick@cascwild.org, (314) 482-3746

Transparency, Timely Information Sought on Washington's Wolf Management

Letter Urges State Wildlife Agency to Honor Assurances, Keep Public Informed

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Fourteen conservation organizations sent a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today raising concerns about the agency’s failure to be transparent and timely in providing information to the public about wolf conservation and management.

“Washington residents and people across the country care deeply about the state’s recovering wolf population, yet local wildlife officials continue to operate without transparency or timeliness in updating the public on wolf management,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Department of Fish and Wildlife has previously acknowledged the importance of openness, so it’s time for them to walk the talk.”

The 14 organizations behind the letter, which work together on Washington wolf issues, are requesting that the department make good on assurances it gave to the conservation community — and to its own wolf-advisory stakeholder group — that it would significantly improve communications essential to trust and credibility. 

These specific requests include the agency providing timely and up-to-date information on each known wolf pack, individual wolf deaths, chronologies of wolf-livestock interactions, photos and videos of wolves, and confirmations of litters born.

The letter also emphasizes the groups’ strong disagreement with the agency’s decision to only report the number of wolves killed when the agency is engaged in a lethal-control operation to kill members of a wolf pack in response to livestock depredations. The letter states:

“It is our perspective that the Department’s decision to only release the number of wolves killed is an unnecessary and inappropriate retreat from the level of transparency in previous removal actions. The Department holds wolves in public trust for all members of the public, and a significant part of a trust relationship is openness and disclosure.”

Wolves were driven to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. They began to return from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia in the early 2000s, and their population has grown to an estimated 115 wolves in 20 confirmed packs today. But wolf recovery in Washington is in its infancy, and for conservation efforts to succeed, transparency in state agency wolf-management actions is essential, as is timely release of information so that the public — which the agency serves — can stay apprised.

“Washington has invested a lot in its wolf conservation program, and there is an incredible amount of public interest in wolves,” said Nick Cady with Cascadia Wildlands.  “For the agency to clam up at these critical junctures in the species’ future is wildly inappropriate and raises questions about the actions being taken.”

The letter to the department was filed by groups representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club, Lands Council, Western Environmental Law Center, Cascadia Wildlands, Wolf Haven International, Western Wildlife Conservation, Endangered Species Coalition, Mountain Lion Foundation, Eastern Washington Wolf Coalition, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and Conservation Northwest.

Wolf

Smackout pack wolf photo courtesy Western Wildlife Conservation. This image is available for media use.

 

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