Sunday, November 2, 2014

Reposted from The Timber Wolf Information Network

WY: Wyoming governor eyes congressional fix on wolf delisting

By BEN NEARY, Associated Press

Cheyenne, Wyo. • Congressional action appears to offer Wyoming its best chance at regaining state management of wolves, Gov. Matt Mead said Thursday.

Acting in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of conservation groups, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson last month stripped Wyoming of wolf management authority and returned wolves to federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. In Utah, wolves remain protected under the act. A state management plan, which allows for two breeding pairs in the state, won’t be used until wolves are delisted in the region.

Jackson agreed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that wolves in the Northern Rockies have recovered and she accepted the agency’s finding that wolves aren’t endangered or threatened within a significant portion of their range.

However, Jackson ruled the Wyoming plan that took effect in 2012 failed to contain legal guarantees that the state would maintain a buffer wolf population above the required minimum of 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

A survey released by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department early this year said there were at least 306 wolves in at least 43 packs – including more than 23 breeding pairs – in the state at the end of 2013.

Wyoming held wolf hunts in a trophy management zone bordering Yellowstone in 2012 and 2013. Jackson’s order ending state management came on the eve of this year’s scheduled hunt, stopping it.

Jackson ruled she was not satisfied by a last-minute effort by Mead’s administration to try to make the buffer population requirement legally binding as an administrative rule until the state Legislature could take action early next year to codify it in law.

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Mead said his administration is still considering whether to appeal Jackson’s order. The deadline for filing an appeal is late November.

Mead said Wyoming’s best chance at regaining wolf management authority appears to be seeking congressional action specifying its wolf plan wouldn’t be challenged legally.

Congress in 2011 took unprecedented action to remove federal protections from wolves in Idaho and Montana while specifying there could be no legal challenge to the decision to turn them over to state management.

Mead said all three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation are willing to push for similar federal action on Wyoming wolves.

“With the election next week, we’ll know better what the congressional makeup’s going to be. Hopefully have a better feel of what the next Congress is going to look like,” Mead said.

Mead said he expects the state’s congressional delegation would push for acceptance of the same wolf management plan that Jackson overturned, although perhaps with additional language making the buffer population a legal requirement.

“Other than that, I think it’s an extraordinarily good plan,” Mead said. “And I think the history and the hunts we’ve had show it’s working and it’s working well — that wolves were being managed very conservatively and that we more than met a necessary buffer.”

Wyoming’s wolf management plan designated wolves as predators that could be shot on sight in most areas. The state classified wolves as trophy animals in a zone bordering Yellowstone National Park and has allowed licensed hunters to kill scores of them in the past two hunting seasons.

Wyoming’s approach to wolf management has drawn heavy criticism from national conservation groups.

Tim Preso lawyer with Earthjustice in Bozeman, Montana, represented a coalition of groups that sued to overturn Wyoming’s wolf plan.

“In general I would say that the Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress to ensure a rich wildlife heritage for the entire nation,” Preso said. “And if local interests get congressional exemptions anytime there’s a significant endangered species issue in their backyards, that goal will be undermined, and the entire nation will be poorer for it.”


Saturday, November 1, 2014


Reposted from The Wildlife News:

Wolf shows up at Grand Canyon National Park

Once again incredible migration ability of wolves shows-

Photographs were first taken Oct. 4, 2014 near the North Rim of the canyon of what was almost certainly a wild Northern Rockies gray wolf.  Since then the animal has been seen and photographed several more times.

The three photos from a longer series that I looked at (received by email) show what is obviously a substantial sized wolf, close up, wearing a radio collar. I am not sure if I am allowed to use the photos, so here is one more of the photo series already published at Chronkite News.  It is obviously not a coyote, too massive to be a Mexican wolf, and pet wolves and wolf hybrids do not wear radio collars. It shows all the characteristics of a wolf. A newer article in shows two more recent photos of the wolf with the radio collar (reported taken on Oct. 27).

The person who took the Oct. 4 photos wrote in the email that was copied to me, “I stopped at the Visitor’s Center, told the kid what we’d seen…he said “there are no wolves in the area, what you saw was a big fluffy coyote.” No joke, he wouldn’t even look at the pictures!”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now looking at these and other photos and is non-committal (some suspect saying “this is not good news for us”). The Service is trying to delist wolves all over the West. They have made lots of claims that the wolf is recovered and that all the decent wolf habitat is occupied.  Michael Robinson, with the Center for Biological Diversity“ said, “I’m absolutely thrilled that a wolf managed to travel so far to reclaim the Grand Canyon as a home for wolves.” “This wolf’s journey starkly highlights the fact that wolf recovery is still in its infancy and that these important and magnificent animals continue to need Endangered Species Act protections.”

Other comments: “In the early 1900s over 30 wolves on the North Kaibab, including Grand Canyon National Park, were killed by government hunters,” said Kim Crumbo, conservation director for Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. “The possibility that a determined wolf could make it to the Canyon region is cause for celebration, and we must insist that every effort be taken to protect this brave wanderer.”  “Wolves like this one at the Grand Canyon and OR-7 demonstrate that, when protected, wolves will naturally recolonize their native habitats, restoring balance to wounded landscapes,” said Drew Kerr, carnivore advocate with WildEarth Guardians. “Without Endangered Species Act protections, however, wolves will likely be relegated to a few National Parks in a tiny portion of their historic range.”

To get to the Grand Canyon from the Northern Rockies, the wolf must have crossed not only many rugged and remote areas, but many highways, roads, livestock grazed lands, and red rock desert.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Please ask that the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) immediately initiate a status review of wolves in the Northern Rockies. 

Thank you to Defenders of Wildlife, please join them in calling on FWS to review the status of Idaho’s persecuted wolf population.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

If you really want to help our Gray Wolves in the U.S.A.?
Then please follow and support Defenders of Wildlife

Dear Heidi,

You might wonder why, with all the bad wolf news coming from the Northern Rockies lately, I remain optimistic.

I remain optimistic, because not all the news is bad. In Wyoming, this would have been the end of the first week of the wolf hunting season. But thanks to your support, we went to court, and Wyoming’s wolves are back on the endangered species list – where they belong.

I remain optimistic, because not all states are dominated by wolf-haters. Just last week, the California Fish and Game Commission officially added gray wolves to the state endangered species list. That means the welcome mat is out for wolves in some great wolf habitat in the Lower 48!

I remain optimistic, because if you look at the big picture, we’re winning. Just 20 years ago the wolf population of the Northern Rockies was almost zero. Today, there are more than 1,600 wolves roaming the forests, mountains, and valleys of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. And while old hatreds and prejudices die hard, a new generation of Westerners, many of whom are wolf-lovers like you and me, is coming of age.

Most of all I remain optimistic, because of you. Supporters like you are the lifeblood of our work. It’s no exaggeration to say that without you, we wouldn’t be here.

Some things are worth saying as often as possible. Here’s one – Thank You.

We will never give up fighting for the wolves, and we are so proud to have you by our side.

With gratitude,

Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Reposted from Keep Michigan Wolves Protected:


News: Detroit Free Press Sep 11, 2014
With two proposals concerning wolf hunts on the Nov. 4 ballot, the Natural Resources Commission will not schedule a hunt of gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula this year.

“We do not have the authority to set a wolf hunt now,” said John Matonich, a NRC commissioner during a commission meeting Thursday. “It’s happening too late in the year for 2014, so the NRC will wait until 2015” to set another hunt.

The two proposals are referendums on two laws passed by the Legislature in 2012 and 2013 that authorize the NRC to designate game species and set a wolf hunt. Opponents of the hunt gathered enough signatures twice to try and get the two laws repealed.

On the ballot, supporters of the wolf hunt would vote yes on the two proposals. Opponents would vote no to repeal the law.

The petitions put the laws on hold until after the vote. Even if the laws are upheld in November, there isn’t enough time to set a hunt for 2014, Matonich said.

A third citizen-initiated legislative petition drive, which supports the wolf hunt and supersedes the other two petition ballots, was passed by the Legislature last month, but that law won’t take effect until sometime in March.

The NRC authorized a hunt for 2013 with a goal of killing up to 43 wolves of the population of more than 600 wolves in three sections of the western Upper Peninsula. That hunt resulted in 23 wolves getting killed by hunters.

Opponents of the hunt said people already have the right to kill troublesome wolves who threaten livestock and pets and that an organized hunt isn’t needed.

Supporters say the wolves are beginning to encroach on communities and the herd needs to be thinned.

Keep Wolves Protected is endorsed by a number of organizations and citizens including:
Kalamazoo Humane Society
Pamela Graves, DVM
Detroit Audubon Society
Michigan Animal Shelter Rescue Network
Aaron Payment, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Humane Society of Huron Valley
Detroit Zoological Society

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reposted from:


Please speak up to halt further 
Huckleberry Pack bloodshed.

Gary M Chittim, 5:48 p.m. PDT September 4, 2014

STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. -- When a sharpshooter took out a member of a problem wolf pack last month, it looked like a small female, but it wasn't just any female. A necropsy determined it was the breeding female of the Huckleberry Pack, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDF&W) officials said today.

The Huckleberry Pack has been feeding on sheep being raised on private forest lands in northern Stevens County.

State decides to kill, not scare, wolves

On patrol to save sheep and wolves

WDF&W biologists tried non-lethal means to keep the wolves away from the 1,800 head sheep herd. But when they found five dead sheep and three injured on August 23, they issued the order to kill up to four wolves in the pack.

The only wolf killed was the female shot from a helicopter by a federal contractor.

WDF&W was hoping to keep the breeding pair alive so that if the pack learned to leave the sheep alone, it could rebuild and return to hunting wild animals.

Fish & Wildlife hunting wolves that killed sheep

Rancher moves sheep away from wolf pack

"Obviously, this is an unfortunate development and one we hoped to avoid," said Nate Pamplin, WDF&W's Assistant Wildlife Program Director. "We provided direction for individuals involved in aerial removals or trapping/euthanasia to try to remove smaller bodied animals."

He added the alpha wolf weighed 66 pounds and was 3 years old. Pamplin said they couldn't determine it was the alpha female from the air.

Biologists say losing the alpha female harms the survival of a wolf pack, but other females in the pack may fill that role.


Reposted from, and thank you, as always, to Bob Ferris at Cascadia Wildlands:


By Bob Ferris

I am bone tired after dogging the Huckleberry Pack issue nearly non-stop for approaching two weeks. And now I am angry and disappointed. That is a very bad time to put your thoughts down electronically, but someone needs to.

I am not angry at the rancher who may have or may have not placed sheep in harm’s way. He was just being a rancher—acting as we have come to expect from this quadrant of Washington. Perhaps he was pushing the issue and abusing the system, but that is relatively immaterial to my anger.

I am not angry at the private timber company who allowed the sheep on to their property so that they could graze forest understory that could have been used by deer and elk populations. That is even though they are more than likely getting tax breaks from the State for providing benefits for wildlife and watersheds.  Still not there anger-wise.

I am mad, however, at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Why? Not because their contractor could have made an honest mistake and shot an unintended wolf. Not because they said they would not shoot either of the alpha wolves in this pack. I have worked in wildlife long enough and under tough conditions to know that honest wildlife managers working under similar conditions can make mistakes.

I am mad because the WDFW did not own up to their mistake when it happened. Why would I learn about this 12 days after it happened and then only because I saw a random Facebook post made by a fairly new friend of a tweet by a Washington newscaster (see above)? Really?

After the Wedge Pack disaster of 2012 the WDFW had a heavy burden to carry in terms of their credibility as an agency capable of dealing with the complexity of wolf recovery. They were given a second chance with the Huckleberry Pack to do it right and demonstrate that they were willing and able to deal with this recovery.

They were on a path to failing the test put before them, but with this action (or inaction) WDFW just put the punctuation on that failing grade. Clearly the Governor and legislators need to step in and force the agency to undergo the rule making that we have all requested. But it is more than that, because this is a cultural failure within this public agency and in their governing body to understand their responsibility to the whole public in this matter and not just ranching interests and trophy hunters.

For the Huckleberry Pack






Categories: Blog Home Page Hot Topic Uncategorized Washington Wolves Wolves and Allies Posted on September 4, 2014 at 6:40 pm.
6 Responses to The Huckleberry Alpha Female is Dead: Wolves -1 and WDFW Credibility 0
SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 AT 8:00 PM
I was wondering how this was going to work out, shooting wolves from a helicopter.  This is about as unscientific as it can get, wolves on the run, take your best shot.  It's hard to believe this comes from the State Agency in charge of managing wolves.  I say, and I will continue to say, "wolves do not belong to the states in which they reside, they belong to all Americans".  Wildlife is a national treasure and we should all be good stewards of our national treasure.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 AT 4:03 AM

Maybe they didn't say anything because they are so dysfunctional and so in denial at WDFW that they actually believe they can get away with it? If that is correct, then it is logical to assume they have gotten away with it before. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Let's nip this behavior in the bud! That 'bud' would be the governor's political career. We should also use this as a prime example as to why states do not have the ability to make responsible decisions in managing wolves when their management agency has no set rules, and refuses to even talk about adopting them.  Washington State is now going to be used as a bad example when writing to USFWS regarding he delisting issue. As sad and angry as we are now, we must not forget we are arguing for wolves on both the state and federal levels now. It is the perfect argument for the need for federal relisting.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 AT 8:19 AM
Please protect these vital animals, so critical to a healthy wilderness. 

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 AT 9:01 AM
I am so turnoff and discussed with WDFW, their credibility  is beyond repair. There needs to be a total shake-up and cleaning up of WDFW NOW!!!  How they continue to mislead & screwup is unacceptable!

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 AT 9:57 AM
I shared this with the governor today, along with my plea that he take action on this before more wolves die.  (And that he fire the DFW staff.)

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 AT 1:06 PM
It's 'mistakes' like this that will ultimately lead to the extinction of any species.  I fault any government or group that thinks it is ok to so agressively kill a species down to just a few and not carefully monitor what they have left.  It's a disaster in the making.  They don't care enough to do the right thing when it matters & inevitably will end up killing the entire species with their carelessness. 


If you have the time, please drop a line to Phil Anderson, to say "enough is enough."
WDFW killed an Alpha Wolf and left her pups orphaned. The sheep ranchers who called for this action need to know that their losses were not the only ones to be considered. Thank you for speaking up.

Please take action for the remaining 
Huckleberry Pack Wolves.
Thank you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Reposted from Canis Lupus 101:


Tuesday, September 2. 2014
Scott Maben The Spokesman-Review

A Stevens County family moved 1,800 sheep off private grazing land over the weekend to protect their flock from wolves that have killed at least two dozen of the animals this summer. Dave and Julie Dashiell decided to get their sheep to safety rather than wait for state wildlife officials to track down and kill up to four wolves from the Huckleberry Pack, which is at least six strong and hunts north of the Spokane Tribe reservation.

The ranchers tried everything to thwart the attacks, said Jamie Henneman, spokeswoman for the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, which is working on behalf of the Dashiells. They had a full-time herder, four guard dogs, range riders and extra help from state employees, but confirmed wolf kills kept mounting, Henneman said Monday. “There’s a point where you’ve got to decide, do you leave and hopefully stay in business, or do you stick around until there’s just nothing left,” she said.

The Dashiells know of 24 sheep they lost to wolf attacks the past few weeks and fear the actual toll could be twice that number. On Sunday they pulled their remaining sheep off rangeland they leased from Hancock Timber Co. northeast of Hunters in southern Stevens County. The animals were moved, with assistance from state employees, to a temporary pasture and soon will be trucked to their winter range, about six weeks earlier than planned, Henneman said.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department shot one of the wolves, an adult female, from a helicopter on Aug. 23 and set out traps in hopes of removing up to three others from the pack. But the agency pulled its traps before the Labor Day weekend to avoid conflicts with recreationists and grouse hunters.

The state responded quickly to assist the Dashiells once it was clear wolves were attacking the flock, said Donny Martorello, carnivore section manager for Fish and Wildlife. When wolves start preying on domestic sheep, losses can add up quickly, Martorello said Monday. “The alarm bells went off for us,” he said, and the agency worked with the rancher daily on preventing more attacks.

Now that the Dashiells have removed the sheep, the state will re-evaluate what to do next, Martorello said. “We’re certainly concerned about the behavior, the repeated depredations,” he said. “We did remove one wolf; we don’t know if we’ve broken that pattern of depredation, that prey-switching from natural prey to sheep.”

Henneman said the cattlemen’s association sees this as a case of the state falling short of protecting livestock producers. “If this is the precedent – that Fish and Wildlife refuses to control their animals, that the rancher has to leave – we have a private property rights crisis here,” she said. “That means anyone that owns land out here … it means you’re going to get kicked out, the predator has precedence.”

Henneman also noted that other land and livestock owners in that area may be at risk from the Huckleberry Pack. “As soon as that pack figures out that their 1,800 sheep are gone, they’re going to move on to the next site,” she said. “This is not the end to these troubles.”

Until recently the pack had spent most of its time on the Spokane reservation but now is more active north of the reservation. The Dashiells did not know the pack was that close until the attacks began, Henneman said.

Fish and Wildlife plans to reach out to neighboring livestock owners to discuss the pack and offer help to try to prevent more attacks. The agency also is evaluating compensation for the Dashiells for the sheep injured and killed by wolves.


Monday, September 1, 2014


Reposted from Cascadia Wildlands

By Bob Ferris

There are tons of rumors floating around about the Huckleberry Pack.  Things are being said about wolves, the rancher, WDFW and even private property rights.  In this say-anything and believe-anything society we now find ourselves in we have to be discerning and cut the tails off both ends of the information spectrum to find something approaching the truth of this matter.  But there are some things we know and should be concerned about.

The first is the agency behavior.  The public expressed great displeasure at the way the Wedge Pack incident was handled and many of us—including Cascadia Wildlands—were simultaneously critical and stood (and are standing) ready with concrete ideas and solutions for moving forward.   As we look at this Huckleberry Pack situation it was clear that both were ignored. 

Most of my professional life has involved looking at complex ecological, economic and social systems in a conservation context.  And this Huckleberry situation is one of the most complex and myth filled.   Taken in its purest form what the wolves and this huge sheep flock on private timberlands in northeastern Washington State represents is the collision between a nearly two century old effort to transform the West into pastures and woodlots for the benefit of a select few and the desires of the many to see wildlands that are wild.  Both sides of the debate have valid points but rather than searching for solutions many are looking for bigger and uglier conflicts.  
That search will ultimately result in poor outcomes for both sides.

In many people’s minds what makes this situation special is that it happens on private lands rather than public because that gets away from the issue of subsidies and below market grazing.  While that is kind of true, rural counties—like Stevens County—are notoriously subsidized by federal monies and by the more urban counties in the state.  Rural road systems and education are two areas where rural residents enjoy amenities far above their federal, state or county tax contributions and there are many others.

Certainly there are valid reasons for this osmotic flow of tax dollars and there should be no shame in it.  But it also should not be ignored or denied by those whose activities—like ranching and timber harvests—are compromising the water quality, recreational opportunities and ecological services needed or enjoyed by those parties footing some of their bills.  
Nor should this situation encourage a sense of self-righteousness or crowing from rural private landowners promoting their reputation for rugged self-reliance, because it only makes these folks look a lot like teenagers plastering their rooms with no trespassing signs. 

On the flipside those in urban areas need also to understand a few things.  First off, animal protein and lumber comes from somewhere.  Only 14% or so of people in the United States are vegans or vegetarians and most of us live in houses so divorcing ourselves from this situation like we are disinterested parties is not productive nor is it honest.  We all have a hand or hands in this. 

We have to be honest too about the wolves and livestock.  Wolves are wild critters and they do occasionally kill livestock and where that happens it is a problem for that producer.  That said, there is really no excuse for comments like those made recently by Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho—a state which seems poised to nominate “lying about wolves” as an Olympic sport.  Leaders should certainly have strongly held beliefs but their leadership should not consist of throwing gasoline on a fire and the complaining about the heat.

Which brings us to sheep.  Domestic sheep are bred to be docile and afraid of their own shadows.  They are as distant in many ways from their canny wild ancestors as teacup poodles are from wolves.  So how truly prudent is it to release these walking, wool-covered cocktail wieners into a rough and rugged, re-wilding landscape?  

Certainly folks should be granted great latitude in the way they manage or use their private lands, but there are limits particularly when those lands often enjoy substantial tax benefits  because of their perceived benefits for wildlife and watersheds—which are diminished by sheep and cattle grazing.  Or when the users of these tax-advantaged parcels or public lands expect non-trivial amounts of state and federal assistance to deal with conflicts with endangered wildlife such as the $75,000 cost of controling the Wedge Pack. 

So where does that leave us?  My sense is that this pack was aptly named because huckleberries are fruits used both by humans and wildlife.  When cultivated and over managed huckleberries only provide food for humans and little benefit for wildlife.  And when approached too casually in their wild state there are sometimes conflicts with bears and other wildlife.  But when left in their natural state and sensitively and cautiously approached by humans they yield both a wonderful experience and a tasty treat.

This Labor Day weekend is one of respite for the wolves and is a good time for reflection about this whole affair.  The WDFW, for instance, needs to consider how they move forward and how to repair their doubly bruised reputation with the public they serve. 

This rancher and others need to think about how their businesses can thrive in this re-wilding landscape and how their choices of livestock breeds and management options can lead to conflict and loss or more happy outcomes.  In this they might look at other options such as hardier breeds of sheep and cattle or even bison as Ted Turner has on his Flying D ranch and elsewhere (for more on this latter topic please consider attending one of the Two Talking Wolves tour stops).

Washington’s Governor Inslee needs to think about how he can help the WDFW deal better with this situation and others.  Our sense is that the best pathway would be what was done in Oregon where the agency, ranchers and wildlife advocacy groups sat down and negotiated rules that were later adopted by the legislators and the Fish and Wildlife Commission.  It took 18 months, but it was worth it.

And wolf advocates must reflect as well.  Based upon comments that I have seen, we need to become more aware and sensitive to the situations faced in rural areas and proceed in an informed and respectful manner.  I know this is difficult—particularly in the face of vitriol—but it is necessary as well as keeping up the pressure needed to get the logical and best parties to the table in Washington.  Please click below to help and share this around the social networks.

For the Huckleberry Pack ~ Thank you!


On Saturday August 24, 2014, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife began a secret aerial gunning campaign for the Huckleberry wolf pack in Stevens County, Washington.  When the conservation community caught wind of the ongoing hunting and contacted the Department, we were told "we can't tell you what's going on."  There had been several sheep depredations in the weeks prior, but recent initation of non-lethal preventative measures had stopped the depredations in the days prior to the 24th.  It appears this current gunning campaign is pure retribution for the sheep depredations during the weeks prior.  Please take a minute call the Governor Inslee at (360) 902-4111 and send his office office a message.  When first contacted, the Governor's office did not even know this kill order was being executed, and weighing in now could end the hunt. 

Jay Inslee

Governor of Washington
- See more at: 

- See more at:

Sunday, August 24, 2014


1) Post a comment on WDFW here, if it appears disabled, you can still comment on their posts anyways! : 

(2) tweet @WDFW @GovInslee ; 

(3) Post on Gov. Jay Inslee FB page; 

(4) Email Gov Inslee at; 

(5) Monday morning call Gov Inslee 360-902-4111 and Director of WDFW Phil Anderson: (360) 902-2200

Center for Biological Diversity
For Immediate Release, August 22, 2014

Contacts: Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Mike Petersen, The Lands Council, (509) 209-2406
Suzanne Stone, Defenders of Wildlife, (208) 861-4655
Tim Coleman, Kettle Range Conservation Group, (509) 775-2667/(509) 435-1092 (cell)
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746
Washington Wildlife Agency Urged to Revoke Kill Order for Huckleberry Pack

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Eight conservation organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of Washington residents, are calling on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to rescind a kill order issued earlier this week for wolves of the Huckleberry pack. The order authorizes agency staff and a sheep operator to shoot any wolves seen in the vicinity of a band of sheep that has incurred losses due to wolves over the past few weeks. In a letter to the Department, the conservation groups urged the agency to continue efforts to deter wolves from killing more sheep using nonlethal means rather than killing wolves, as it did two years ago when seven members of the Wedge pack were killed.

“We appreciate the agency’s efforts to work with the rancher and use nonlethal means to protect sheep from further losses,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the wolf kill order needs to be rescinded right away. Killing wolves is just not an effective means of protecting livestock.”

Between Aug. 11 and 12, 14 sheep were confirmed as killed by members of the Huckleberry Pack in southwestern Stevens County, and four more sheep have been killed by wolves since that time. Provided the rancher was using sufficient nonlethal deterrence measures at the time, he will be eligible for compensation from the state for the loss of the sheep. The Huckleberry Pack, with six to 12 members and no prior history of livestock conflicts, spends most of its time on the Spokane Reservation, but satellite data from the alpha male’s radio collar indicate he was present at the time the sheep were killed.

All of the details are still not clear, but the rancher’s sheep herder had apparently quit some weeks before the incident, and the sheep were thus unattended some or all of the time. The rancher does have four guard dogs. Nine additional sheep were killed earlier in the month, but were discovered too late to determine the cause of death.

“Before the state moves to killing wolves, it needs to ensure that all nonlethal measures have been exhausted,” said Mike Petersen, executive director of The Lands Council. “Subsequent deaths might have been averted if conflict-prevention strategies had been put into place earlier, though we are glad to hear reports that the sheep operator is fully cooperating with the agency to implement deterrence methods now.”

The agency is in the process of helping the rancher move his sheep to an alternate location, has multiple staff on site to help deter wolves from approaching the sheep, and has brought in a range rider to help monitor the sheep, along with the operator’s four livestock guard dogs. But the four most recent sheep deaths occurred before many of these measures were in place. Despite this fact Washington Department of Wildlife Director Phil Anderson issued the kill order for the wolves Wednesday.

“This is not a situation where the agency should yet be engaging in lethal control,” said Shawn Cantrell, Northwest office director for Defenders of Wildlife. “While the agency’s actions are a huge step up from how they handled the Wedge pack in 2012, there’s much more it could be doing before it authorizes the killing of wolves.”

A news report Thursday evening from Seattle’s NBC news affiliate King5 News included an onsite interview with an agency staffer, who described the conflict-prevention tools the agency was using, including nonlethal rubber bullets, human presence and guard dogs, and emphasized that the agency is focusing on nonlethal conflict deterrence methods. In addition, this week Defenders of Wildlife sent several “foxlights,” a new deterrent from wildlife coexistence operations in Australia — which is already being used in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Canada to keep wolves away from livestock — to the Department.

“The agency knows that killing wolves doesn’t stop conflict and in fact the recent science is showing that killing wolves can result in more conflict because of the breakdown it causes in the social structure and size of wolf packs,” said Tim Coleman, executive director of the Kettle Range Conservation Groups. “If the agency is going to tell the public on TV news that it is focusing on nonlethal, it should put its money where its mouth is, pay attention to what science tells us and rescind the kill order.”

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a slow comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia. But wolf recovery is still in its infancy, with only an estimated 52 wolves at the end of 2013. In 2012 the Wedge pack was killed in a highly controversial agency lethal control action over wolf-livestock conflicts on public land.

“It is essential that more wolves are not lost from the state’s tiny wolf population because of state-sanctioned lethal control actions that ignore the proven, nonlethal methods of conflict prevention,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands.

The letter to the department was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Western Environmental Law Center, Wolf Haven International, Kettle Range Conservation Group and The Lands Council.

For Immediate Release, August 23, 2014

Contact: Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Washington Department of Wildlife Secretly Sends Aerial Gunners for Wolf Pack

Agency Sends Helicopter to Gun Down Huckleberry Pack Despite Assurances to
Rely on Nonlethal Means to Curb Loss of Livestock

OLYMPIA, Wash.— Conservation groups learned today that the Washington Department of Wildlife has abandoned nonlethal measures to deter further loss of sheep and instead use a helicopter to gun down members of the Huckleberry wolf pack. The groups learned that the department was unsuccessful today, but plans to return at first light Sunday in southeast Stevens County.

“The department’s secretive weekend assault on this endangered wolf pack goes beyond the pale,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s unconscionable that a public agency would take action to kill an endangered species without notifying the public. These wolves belong to the public and decisions about whether they live or die ought to be made in the clear light of day.”

Between Aug. 11 and 12, 14 sheep were confirmed as killed by members of the Huckleberry pack in southwestern Stevens County. Department director Phil Anderson told members of the public and the Fish and Wildlife Commission that nonlethal measures were being deployed to deter further loss of sheep and provided no notice of the move to kill wolves. Moreover, when contacted by a concerned citizen today, department game division manager Dave Ware replied that he couldn’t talk about it.

“Nonlethal measures, such as range riders and moving the sheep, were being put in place and should have been allowed to work before the agency moved to kill wolves,” said Weiss. “With only 52 confirmed wolves in Washington, we can’t afford to kill any, particularly when nonlethal measures have yet to be fully tried.”

At a Fish and Wildlife Commission hearing on Aug. 15, department officials told the commission they had a range rider and multiple staff at the site to create a human presence that would scare wolves away. Department officials also said the band of 1,800 sheep would be moved to a new location. However, staff subsequently went home for a night or two and the sheep were not moved – nor were sheep carcasses removed – and there were subsequently four more sheep deaths on Aug 18 and 19.  As of today, the sheep band still has not been moved and sheep carcasses, which could draw in wolves, still remain.

On Aug. 20, Department Director Phil Anderson issued a kill order authorizing agency staff and the sheep rancher to kill any wolves in the vicinity of the sheep, even though most of the conflict-prevention measures the department said would be in place were not. The range rider was not on the ground until the morning of Aug. 21, almost a week after the department assured the commission of his presence, and the department had not accepted an offer from a conservation group of a loan of special lights that deter predators and are being used in other parts of the west.

On Aug. 21, eight conservation groups sent a letter to the department, urging the agency to continue efforts to deter wolves from killing more sheep using nonlethal means rather than killing wolves, as it did two years ago when seven members of the Wedge pack were killed.

“The Huckleberry Pack has pups that were born late this spring, making them only a few months old. If the adults are killed, those pups will starve to death,” said Weiss. “What kind of a public agency assures the public it is relying on nonlethal methods then secretly sends in aerial snipers to kill the pack while the public is sleeping in on a weekend morning?”

The controversial killing of the Wedge pack in 2012 cost taxpayers $76,500; it is unknown how much it is costing the state to gun down the Huckleberry Pack. The sheep operator’s losses are estimated at $5,000 and, if he has been using adequate nonlethal conflict prevention methods prior to the losses, would be eligible for compensation from the state.

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a slow comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia. But wolf recovery is still in its infancy, with only an estimated 52 wolves at the end of 2013.

Press Release: Center for Biological Diversity August 23, 2014

The Huckleberry pack was set up to fail by WDFW and the Stevens County Cattleman’s Association. They did not keep their agreement and as of yet, have not removed the sheep as promised, and delayed a week before getting their range riders in place to protect the sheep. Non-lethal implementation was the agreed on deal, in the meantime the wolves did come in and there was no one or anything in place for a week to deter them. Now they have issued a kill order against them. They say 2 days of hazing with a chopper did not work, now the kill order. There is not a wolf on this planet that will not run from a low flying helicopter.
Several wildlife organizations filed an injunction against the kill order on the 22nd. On the 23rd learned that WDFG had abandoned the non lethal agreement and will proceed with the kill order.  They sent the helicopter out on Saturday and were unsuccessful. The helicopter and ground activity was reported in the wolf area this morning by Eastern Washington Wolves, with no updates available.
1) Post a comment on WDFW here, if it appears disabled, you can still comment on their posts anyways! : 
(2) tweet @WDFW @GovInslee ; 
(3) Post on Gov. Jay Inslee FB page; 
(4) Email Gov Inslee at; 
(5) Monday morning call Gov Inslee 360-902-4111 and Director of WDFW Phil Anderson: (360) 902-2200

Press Release: Center for Biological Diversity  August 22, 2014

Press Release: Center for Biological Diversity August 23, 2014