OLYMPIA – Despite the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) action today removing gray wolves from the federal endangered-species list in the eastern third of Washington state, the animals remain protected as a state endangered species throughout Washington.
Under state law (RCW 17.15.120) it is illegal to kill, harm or harass endangered species, including the gray wolf, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials note. However, individuals wishing to report a wolf sighting or suspected wolf depredation can contact WDFW’s wolf hotline at 1-888-584-9038.
A comprehensive webpage with information about wolves, depredation response and agency contact information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/diversty/soc/gray_wolf/contacts.htm.
Today’s federal action removed the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves from the federal endangered-species list, including wolves in the eastern third of Washington state east of highways 97, 17 and 395 from the Canadian border to the Oregon border. Extending the federal de-listing into Washington was based on the expected dispersal of wolves from recovered populations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Wolves remain federally listed as an endangered species in the western two-thirds of the state.
“Today’s federal action means that in the eastern third of the state, WDFW is the lead for wolf management, including response to suspected wolf depredation of livestock,” said Harriet Allen, WDFW’s manager of threatened and endangered species.
WDFW will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the USFWS to investigate suspected wolf sightings, livestock depredations, or other problems, Allen said.
Where wolves are under federal protection, the private non-profit group Defenders of Wildlife funds compensation for livestock owners who have confirmed losses due to wolf depredation. There is currently no funding for losses to wolves where the species is not federally listed.
However, establishment of a state compensation fund for confirmed wolf depredation could be included in a state Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which has been under development since January 2007. The plan is being developed in consultation with a 17-member citizen working group and is scheduled for completion by early 2009. For more on the plan process, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/diversty/soc/gray_wolf/index.htm.