Groups file petition to prevent wolf killing

OLYMPIA—The battle over how wolves that kill livestock should be handled continues in Washington state.Eight conservation groups have re-filed a petition this summer, requesting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enact rules that limit the use of lethal control of wolves that depredate livestock.The filing of the petition with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and its commission began a 60-day statutory period within which the state must respond. If the petition is denied, groups intend to appeal for a final decision by Gov. Jay Inslee.The Fish and Wildlife Commission was scheduled to consider the petition during it is August 1 conference call.The petition asks the state to require livestock producers exhaust nonlethal measures to prevent depredations before any lethal action can be taken against wolves.The groups filed a similar petition last summer, but withdrew it with the understanding that the WDFW would develop rules to address key parts of the wolf management plan, including when lethal actions would be considered by the department against wolves involved in repeated depredations on livestock.“But livestock producer and sports hunting groups on the committee refused to consider the petitioners’ proposals, and the department has indicated it plans to move forward and introduce its own far less protective lethal wolf control rule,” according to a press release issued by the conservation groups.Different languageAfter the petition was retracted, the WDFW began working with the Wolf Advisory Group, but a representative of the petitioners asked the group to consider different language and additional rules.WDFW developed the WAG in 2013, a group that recommends strategies to reduce conflicts with wolves and other animals, including livestock and pets.“Several members of the WAG representing agricultural and hunting interests were not supportive of additional rules beyond those under consideration,” Ware said.The consideration of new rules has been postponed until the petition is resolved.The groups also argue that rules are needed to ensure adherence to Washington’s wolf plan, which was written with input from a 17 member stakeholder group, more than 65,000 written comments from the public, and a peer review by 43 scientists and wolf managers.The plan was adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2011. The conservation groups say WDFW and the commission view the plan as advisory and key provisions of the plan were ignored when the so-called Wedge Pack in far northern Stevens County was mostly eliminated after depredation of livestock.