After many years of effort, a diverse working group of conservationists, state officials, the Farm Bureau and others is nearing completion on a state management plan for the wolf. Although not perfect, the plan is likely to be a step forward for wolves.
But instead of this work -- now culminating in a better future for wolves -- anti-wolf advocates are currently proposing extreme and unnecessary bills that will gut wolf protections. If passed, the bills would make an end run around this long and extensive public process to develop the state's wolf conservation and management plan, and they’d represent an extreme minority view that should not be made into law. In fact, most citizens want wolves: A 2008 poll found that 75 percent of Washington residents supported restoring wolves, including a majority of rural residents.
Unfortunately, House Bill 1109, proposed by Representatives Taylor, Kretz and others, would require the legislature to sign off on a final wolf plan. Never in history has the state legislature been required to approve a recovery plan for an endangered species. House Bill 1109 would allow politics to interfere with sound science and collaborative decision-making.
In further bad proposed legislation, House Bill 1108 makes the entirely false and outrageous claim that wolves are having a negative impact on deer and elk populations in Washington without any factual evidence to back it up. Big-game populations (and hunter success rates) in Washington are as high as ever. In neighboring Idaho -- where there are hundreds of wolves -- deer and elk populations are doing well with the exception of a few isolated areas.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges to wolf recovery in our state is that there’s a serious poaching problem. At least two wolves -- and likely more -- have been killed by poachers in Washington in the past two years. House Bill 1108 would make it illegal to prosecute wolf poachers, removing an important deterrent to killing wolves and impeding the safe recovery of wolves in Washington.
Wolves are a keystone species and are important to our ecosystems. They encourage healthy biodiversity and improve the overall health of their habitats. When wolves were reintroduced to
Yellowstone, researchers notice an incredible change in the environment. Wolves prevented the elk from over grazing, which was harming the park and the animals living there. If given the chance, wolves can do the same for the rest of the country. However, if wolf-hating states are given control over wolves while they are still recovering, all of the positive impacts wolves have had on their environments will be lost. States, like Montana and Idaho, plan to keep their wolf populations at an unhealthy and unstably low number in hopes of artificially boosting already overpopulated ungulate herds. Wyoming and Utah, on the other hand, have a “no wolves allowed” management approach.
Wolves will not survive under either of these brutal conditions.
If these anti-wolf bills are passed, wolves will not be the only victims. Passing these bills will give way to farther crippling of the Endangered Species Act. Any endangered species that inconveniences someone with power will be the next to lose their vital protections.
Please do not support any anti-wolf and anti-wildlife bills than plan to rewrite wolves out of the Endangered Species Act. Wolves still need to be protected in order to survive!