OLYMPIA, Wash.— The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a new order today authorizing the killing of up to two members of the Togo wolf pack in Ferry County. The Togo pack currently consists of at least five adults and four pups, according to the department.
Between late June and late August, the Togo pack has been implicated in conflicts resulting in the death or injury of four calves. As of the end of 2020, the state’s endangered wolf population consisted of only 132 wolves confirmed by the Department and another 46 wolves estimated on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation land. Washington state is home to 1.1 million cattle.
“It’s such a tragedy that Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has once again put the Togo pack in the crosshairs,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Rather than continue to work with better alternatives, the agency insists on killing wolves to appease livestock owners. This approach does nothing but fuel a pointless cycle.”
The new kill order, authorized by Department director Kelly Susewind, is the fifth since August 2018 targeting the Togo pack. The Togo pack lives in prime wildlife habitat in northeast Washington, centered in the Colville National Forest.
“With no kill orders issued this spring, we had hoped that wildlife managers in Washington had finally committed to actually promoting coexistence with wolves,” said Weiss. “With yet another kill order, livestock owners have little incentive to use or continue to use measures that prevent conflicts because they can count on the agency to send sharpshooters into the air.”
Since 2012 the state has killed 34 wolves, who are listed as endangered under state law throughout Washington. In killing wolves, the Department says it’s relying on a state wolf plan adopted in 2011 and guidance from a separate protocol crafted by the agency in 2016 and updated in 2017. However, neither the plan nor the protocol contains requirements or enforceable provisions as to when wolves may be killed over livestock conflicts.
In May 2020 the Center and other conservation groups submitted an administrative petition urging the adoption of rules with enforceable requirements for the Department and livestock operators.
These rules would direct the use of appropriate nonlethal measures before resorting to killing wolves and would replace the guidance in the state’s current protocol. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission denied the petition, but in September Gov. Jay Inslee overturned this decision. Per the governor’s directive, the agency is now preparing draft rule proposals that are expected to be released for public comment sometime this fall.
This article was first published by The Center for Biological Diversity on 26 August 2021. Lead Image: Togo male radio collared by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The wolf was killed in September 2018.
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