The WASHINGTON GRAY WOLF CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT 2016 ANNUAL REPORT, a cooperative effort by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Confederated Colville Tribes, Spokane Tribe of Indians, USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been published, and you can access the pdf here: http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01895/wdfw01895.pdf
The report states that the total gray wolf count for the state of Washington is 115. Doesn’t that sound like a horrifically small number? The crazy thing is, it’s actually a 28% increase of what was previously reported in 2015. How did the number get so low? Many reasons, but it basically boils down to the fact that humans ruin everything. Trapping, poisoning, and government-sponsored “predator control programs” all lead to there being no more wolves in the region (the report states that the wolves were “extirpated” — meaning they were eliminated completely). In fact, for about 75 years, not one resident wolf pack was documented in the state. (In the report, “pack” is “primarily used to evaluate the number of wolves on the landscape.”)
Wolves and the Law
It’s a little complicated, but in two-thirds of the state, the wolves are federally protected as endangered species. As of 2011, though, in one-third of the state (the eastern part), they are no longer classified as such. From page 2 of the report:
In 2008, the USFWS published a final rule to remove wolves in the NRM [Northern Rocky Mountain] DPS [Distinct Population Segment] from ESA [Endangered Species Act] protection. This rule was later challenged in federal court and, consequently, wolves were placed back under federal protection. The USFWS again published a final rule to remove the NRM DPS wolf population, excluding Wyoming, from the protections of the in 2009, but the rule was vacated by a federal judge in 2010 which again restored federal protections to wolves in the NRM DPS. In 2011, President Obama signed the Department of Defense and Full-Year Appropriations Act, 2011; a section of which directed the Secretary of the Interior to reissue the 2009 delisting rule. As a result, wolves in the NRM DPS, including the eastern third of Washington, were once again removed from ESA protections.
However, under state law, wolves are classified as endangered species:
At present, wolves are classified as an endangered species under state law (WAC 232-12-014) throughout Washington regardless of federal classification. The Plan designates three recovery areas in the state that includes Eastern Washington, the Northern Cascades, and the Southern Cascades and Northwest Coast. […] Wolves that inhabit tribal lands in the Eastern Washington recovery area are managed by those specific tribal entities. [page 4]
How Can You Help Wolves?
Some obvious ways to help include donating to or volunteering with a wolf or wildlife organization, or use social media to share information and campaigns about wolves. Another way to be involved is to monitor legislation that will affect wolves. I do this by following social media accounts and newsletters of organizations I support and using Google alerts on issues that matter to me (for example, I have a Google alert for “animal law”). With an anti-science and anti-environment administration currently in the White House, wolves and other wildlife need our help more than ever.
For example, gray wolves right now are threatened by what’s been dubbed the “War on Wolves Act,” which would strip federal protections for wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes area. Use social media, email, and/or your phone to contact officials and voice your thoughts! They need to hear from us. Speaking up will save lives!
The Annual Report also has some useful information on how to help wolves, but this is mostly relevant for those in Washington:
- To report a suspected livestock depredation, a dead wolf in the Eastern Washington recovery area, or any type of illegal activity, please call: 1-877-933-9847, your local WDFW conflict specialist, or your local WDFW enforcement officer
- To report a dead wolf in western Washington, please contact the nearest USFWS special agent or your local WDFW enforcement officer
- For information about wolf management in Washington and to report a wolf sighting, please visit: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/
- For information about wolf management on lands owned by the Colville Confederated Tribes and to report a wolf sighting on tribal lands, please visit: http://www.colvilletribes.com/
- For information about wolf recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains, please visit: http://www.westerngraywolf.fws.gov/
Organizations to Support
There are many pro-wolf organizations out there. Here are some that I like:
- Wolf Conservation Center; http://nywolf.org/
- Wolf Haven; http://wolfhaven.org/
- Red Wolf Coalition; https://redwolves.com/newsite/
- Howling for Wolves; http://www.howlingforwolves.org/
- California Wolf Center; https://twitter.com/CAWolfCenter
- National Wolfwatcher Coalition; http://wolfwatcher.org/
- Wolf Education and Research Center; http://www.wolfcenter.org/
- Wildearth Guardians; http://www.wildearthguardians.org
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