Statement on wolf delisting announcement from Interior Department

Statement on wolf delisting announcement from Interior Department

ConservationNWAdmin / Mar 06, 2019 / Range Riding, Restoring Wildlife, Wolves

Given the quality of Washington’s Wolf Plan and investments in collaborative wolf conservation work here, we do not expect federal delisting to have a significant impact on wolves in our state.

In response to an announcement today from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that federal wildlife officials will propose lifting protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, Conservation Northwest released the following comments:

“We’ll be reviewing the delisting proposal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and we empathize with concerns from our colleagues in states such as California and Colorado where wolves have not yet recovered,” said Chase Gunnell, Conservation Northwest spokesperson. “However, given the quality of Washington’s Wolf Plan and investments in collaborative wolf conservation work here, we do not expect federal delisting to have a significant impact on wolves in our state. Wolf recovery is progressing well in Washington and our wolves will remain a state endangered species until state recovery goals are met.”

“Given that federal delisting shifts the responsibility to prosecute and penalize wolf poachers to state and county officials, we do feel that the justice system in Washington state will need to keep a watchful eye on any such cases, with severe fines considering the scarcity of this species,” said Gunnell.

By all indications there are well over 150 wolves roaming Washington today. Despite a few high-profile events, the rate of wolf mortality is much lower here than in Rocky Mountain states.

Conservation Northwest hopes to soon see wolves confirmed in Washington’s South Cascades as well as new areas of the North Cascades where reported sightings have become more common in recent years.

Read more about our more than a decade of work for wolf recovery and coexistence in Washington, including our Range Rider Pilot Project
A gray wolf on an old forest road in Washington. Photo: WDFW