ACTIONS TO TAKE:
1) Post a comment on WDFW here, if it appears disabled, you can still comment on their posts anyways! :https://www.facebook.com/WashingtonFishWildlife
(2) tweet @WDFW @GovInslee ;
(3) Post on Gov. Jay Inslee FB page;
(4) Email Gov Inslee at firstname.lastname@example.org.;
(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, http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/wolves_on_the_west_coast/pdfs/Huckleberry_Pack_ltr_to_WDFW_-_Aug_21_2014.pdf 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 “But the wolf kill order needs to be rescinded right away.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 http://www.king5.com/videos/tech/science/environment/2014/08/21/ranchers-camp-to-protect-sheep-from-wolves/14232662/ 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
BOOTS ON THE GROUND FOR THE HUCKLEBERRY PACK of NE Washington
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.
ACTIONS TO TAKE: 1) Post a comment on WDFW here, if it appears disabled, you can still comment on their posts anyways! :https://www.facebook.com/WashingtonFishWildlife (2) tweet @WDFW @GovInslee ; (3) Post on Gov. Jay Inslee FB page; (4) Email Gov Inslee at email@example.com.; (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