Washington governor seeks to reduce number of wolves killed in state
SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is seeking ways to reduce the number of wolves killed by the state.
Inslee sent a letter Tuesday to the Department of Fish and Wildlife saying the statewide wolf management plan does not appear to be working in the Kettle River Range area of Ferry County, where the state has killed about two dozen wolves that were preying on cattle.
His efforts come as wildlife experts say the vast majority of the predators are causing no trouble.
The Ferry County situation is unique, experts said. "About 90 percent of wolf packs are co-existing in our state without livestock conflicts," the agency said in a statement.
The Kettle River Range is different because the lush, steep terrain is ideal wolf habitat that is also shared with large cattle ranches, making predation an issue.
"The forest conditions and livestock operations in this particular landscape make it extremely challenging, and unfortunately, has resulted in repeated lethal removal actions," according to Fish and Wildlife. "Something has to change to reduce the loss of both wolves and livestock in this area."
No immediate changes are contemplated, but there will be discussions in coming weeks to consider possible reforms, said Staci Lehman, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Many ranchers hire range riders to move among cattle in an effort to keep wolves away. The carcasses of dead cattle are also removed in an effort to keep wolves from herds. Lights are also used to scare away wolves.
The state's killing of wolves in Ferry County, mostly to benefit one ranch in the area, has outraged wolf advocates, who say the state is repeatedly destroying wolf packs living in prime habitat.
Inslee asked the agency to devise a new management approach for that area and report back to him by Dec. 1.
Wolves were all but wiped out in Washington by the 1930s, mostly at the behest of ranching interests.
The animals started moving back...