FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feds to review the status of wolves in the Northwest
Illegal killing of wolves greatest threat to recovery in the Cascades
Today the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it will be initiating a status review of gray wolves in the Pacific Northwest, addressing wolf status and policy outside of the area considered that of the Northern Rockies population (which includes the eastern third of Washington and Oregon). The 5-year review will determine whether the wolf has recovered to the extent that it can be delisted or reclassified, or if it remains endangered.
Today the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that in addition to removing federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions it will be initiating a status review of endangered gray wolves in the Pacific Northwest. The status and policy review for the Pacific Northwest wolves does not include the eastern third of Washington and Oregon, which are considered part of the delisted Rocky Mountain population. A status review is required every 5 years for species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The 5-year review will determine whether the wolf has recovered to the extent that it can be delisted or reclassified, or if it remains endangered.
Within the Service’s definition of the Pacific Northwest, there is only one confirmed breeding pack - the Lookout Pack in Washington’s North Cascades, which state biologists and law enforcement believe has been decimated by illegal killing. Since they were discovered in 2008, the Lookout Pack has gone from as many as ten animals to two remaining individuals. Two of the pack’s wolves were likely killed by poachers in the Methow Valley. Another wolf, possibly from the Lookout Pack, was illegally killed and its body dumped on Highway 20 near Rainy Pass. State biologists and law enforcement officials have indicated they believe the disappearance (in spring of 2010) of the pack’s pregnant alpha pregnant was caused by poachers.
“We welcome a robust scientific review of wolves in the Pacific Northwest. It’s very timely since wolves are making a comeback in the Northwest,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest, a wildlife conservation organization that has been involved in documenting the return of wolves to the Cascade Mountains. “We hope that the review will bring attention to rampant poaching - one of the biggest obstacles to recovery of our wolves.”
Conservation Northwest announced this winter that it is offering a $7,500 reward for information that leads to the conviction of a wolf poacher in Washington. “If we are to see a successful recovery of wolves in the Northwest, then the Service needs to address the problem of illegal killing of these endangered animals,” said Minbashian.
Though only one pack has been confirmed in the Pacific Northwest, there have also been several credible reports of wolves in the central Cascades of Washington and Oregon and the Klamath Basin in Oregon, including a wolf that was photographed along Highway 20 near the Three Sisters Wilderness in 2009.
According to a fact sheet from the USFWS, the extent of their review will likely include those portions of Oregon and Washington west of the Northern Rockies DPS boundary, northern California, western Nevada, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.