Western Conservationists Sue USDA Over Wolf Killing Program

Mar 3, 2015

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the U-S Department of Agriculture Tuesday over killing wolves in Washington state. The state is home to 13 packs, which threaten livestock in some communities.

The Western Environmental Law Center filed the lawsuit against the USDA’s Wildlife Services program over its authority to kill grey wolves. The Center is suing on behalf of five conservation groups, including the Lands Council in Spokane. Attorney John Mellgren says the federal program started authorizing wolf kills last August.

Gray Wolf are endangered in Washington, but are considered problems to some citizens because they threaten livestock like sheep.
Credit USFWS: Tracy Brooks / USFWS Flickr

Mellgren: “We don’t see this with any other endangered species at all. They should have done a more comprehensive environmental impact statement to take a true look at the extensive environmental impacts of the program.”

Federal and state law doesn’t agree over Washington wolves. Washington lists them as endangered statewide, while the federal government lists wolves as endangered in the western 2/3 of Washington only. The eastern third is where the Wildlife Services program has taken part in selective wolf killing - under the direction of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The eastern third of Washington is home to 10 of the state's 13 packs.

Additional information from WDFW: “Currently, wolves in the western two-thirds of Washington are listed as endangered under federal law; in the eastern third of the state they have been removed from federal listing. They are listed as endangered under state law throughout Washington. The USFWS is the lead management authority over wolves where they remain federally listed in the state and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is the lead where wolves are federally delisted.”

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