The lawsuit against the USDA’s Wildlife Services program stemmed from a wolf kill last year. The Western Environmental Law Center sued the federal program yesterday. Gray wolves are endangered statewide according to Washington’s listing, but only endangered in western Washington by federal standards. That leaves jurisdiction of the eastern third of the state up to state officials.
Washington fish and wildlife spokesperson, Madonna Luers, says her agency authorized a wolf killing last August because of threats to livestock. It was federal Wildlife Services staff that performed the kill.
Luers: “After trying a lot of non-lethal efforts… they’re the people we’re going to call. They have the staff, they have the equipment. But no they don’t just go out willy-nilly and shoot wolves.”
They were told to remove a non-breeding member of the Huckleberry Pack, and did the opposite on accident. Officers killed the pack’s breeding female.
Attorney John Mellgren says that worries the Western Environmental Law Center, the Lands Council, and other agencies suing. He says the USDA should have completed an environmental impact statement to take part in wolf kills. But the program instead submitted a less-detailed environmental assessment.
On another note, Luers says people are allowed to kill wolves in eastern Washington if they’re in the act of attacking livestock or pets. Otherwise, only the state can authorize killings, although it may contract out the dirty work to USDA staff.
Wildlife Services has not responded to a request for comment.
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