Coexisting with Wolves

Washington wolf recovery talking points

Conservation Northwest believes Washington can be the state where wolf recovery and management works in the long run; for people, wolves and all the Northwest’s wildlife. But to achieve this goal it will take hard work, respect and compromise from stakeholders on all sides.

Gray wolves are naturally recolonizing Washington from populations in British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and northwest Montana. Click here to learn more about the history of Washington’s wolves.

We recognize that as wolf populations grow in Washington, under the state’s Wolf Management Plan animals that persistently prey on livestock may need to be removed. This is a fact of responsible wolf recovery, and though it can be heartrending, it won’t stop wolves from flourishing in our region over the long run if removals are not excessive.

Conflict avoidance measures, information sharing and expert resources are freely offered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Conservation Northwest to ranchers and farmers across the state. Conflict avoidance methods like range riders, guard dogs and fladry can work well, but they aren’t a cure all.

Washington’s wildlife belongs to all the people of the state regardless of where they roam, or where the people live. When it comes to wolf management, we the citizens deserve timely and accurate information on the circumstances that lead up to any lethal removals, and assurances that ranchers did everything they possibly could to prevent conflicts in the first place.

We recommend these talking points on Washington’s wolf management:

  • Wolves are a keystone predator that plays a valuable and important role in the health of our ecosystems. We strongly support wolf recovery, and value their place in our region and our environment.
  • Wildlife is a public resource and belongs to all the people of the State. Whether one supports or opposes wolf recovery in Washington, the poaching of any wildlife is an unacceptable abuse of our natural resources. On both private and public land, all wildlife is a public trust in the care of all our state’s citizens.
  • We understand the need to address and help resolve conflicts between wolves and the people who live and work in Washington’s wolf country. We want to help them successfully coexist with predators back on the landscape. And we accept that at times lethal removal may be required for responsible wolf recovery.
  • It deeply hurts to see wolves killed, and especially to sanction it. But our goal has always been the sustainable recovery of wolves to their ecological role in the state, not to protect each individual wolf or to promote the species in some mythical way.
  • The loss of some wolves to conflict can be heart-wrenching, but it’s an expected component of a balancing act between people, livestock and predators sharing the same space. And it won’t halt the comeback of these iconic canines in our state.
  • It’s the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s responsibility to safeguard wolf recovery in Washington. We the public deserve clear, transparent and timely communications when it comes to wolf management. Especially before the lethal removal of wolves or other endangered species.
  • Range riders, fladry, guard dogs and hazing can reduce risk of conflict if undertaken with diligence. Either independently or in partnership with the state or conservation organizations, ranchers must be thoroughly using these tools to avoid wildlife conflicts if they knowingly operate in wolf territory.rangerider1
  • We also support efforts by state, federal and university researchers to better understand the impact wolves have or do not have on deer, elk, moose and other ungulate populations. Predator recovery and management needs to be successful for all wildlife, not just wolves and other predators. Solid scientific data helps make that possible.
  • Coexistence, social tolerance and healthy wolf populations are all possible in Washington. We remain committed to the long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves alongside thriving rural communities.
  • We strongly want long term wolf recovery to work for people, wolves and all of Washington’s wildlife.