Help Us Protect Washington Wolves - Attend a Hearing And/or Submit a Public Comment Letter!
Sierra Club members in Washington State care passionately about protecting the Northern Gray Wolf, an endangered species that faces extinction from human predators. Our Fall 2009 edition of the Cascade Crest included a postcard for members to fill out and return for our use in organizing for the public comment period of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding their draft policy on Gray Wolf management for our state. Soon we will deliver your postcards to the WDFW. The postcard response has been extraordinary, send in yours today! We have posted comments from some of the postcards at the end of this article. To acquaint yourself with some background on the Gray Wolf, some important “talking points” for speaking publicly at the public hearings, and other pertinent materials.
- Click here for a complete list of hearing dates and locations around Washington and attend a wolf hearing!
- Click here to submit comments electronically to the Department of Wildlife!
Give returning wild wolves the welcome they deserve!
Talking Points on the state's Wolf Recovery Plan:
- Reintroduction Should Be Considered - The option of reintroduction of wolves into Washington State should have been considered during the development of the plan. As the goal of Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is to maintain a viable wolf population and the goal of the livestock community is to have a population that does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act, the quickest way to meet both of these goals is by reintroducing the wolves into the state.
- Target Numbers for Conservation and Recovery of Wolves Are too Low - Professionals within the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife should carefully consider the recommendations of the public citizens of the WWG when making a final decision and make any changes necessary to reach the goal of reaching a “viable wolf population distributed in a significant portion of the species’ former range in Washington.”
- Target Wolf Numbers Are Inconsistent with United State Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Recommendations – Scientific experts concluded that viability would be “enhanced by higher (500 or more wolves) rather than lower population levels (300) and longer (more than 3 years) rather than shorter (3 years) demonstrated time frames . . . the higher its probability of population viability will be.”
- Target Wolf Numbers Are Not Based on Science - WDFW used their understanding of biology to come up with starting numbers of 15 breeding pairs to transition from threatened to sensitive. The WWG apparently decided to disregard WDFW’s suggestion to use “scientifically based estimates of the wolf numbers needed for recovery.” It is difficult to understand how the number recommended by WDFW scientists for transitioning from threatened to sensitive subsequently became the target for completely removing all protections for wolves without any scientific justification. The WDFW is releasing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS with the final draft plan as the Preferred Alternative before conducting a blind peer review. It is extremely likely that the blind peer review will lead to several suggested changes that should be strongly considered by the WDFW before releasing the preferred alternative. Releasing the DEIS before considering the comments of the blind peer reviewers confirms that the plan will not be based on science and that the blind peer review has no purpose.
- Target Wolf Numbers Dependent on Unreliable Linked Populations - As written, the target numbers depend on maintaining connectivity to the broader wolf population of neighboring states. Washington is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Oregon, in addition to British Columbia and Idaho. While British Columbia and Idaho may be able to contribute wolves to the recovery in Washington, Oregon has a very limited population that is unlikely to contribute a large number of individuals or breeding pairs. Furthermore, in Idaho hunting of wolves is now permitted, which will further reduce the numbers of wolves available to enhance any wolf population in Washington. Unlike British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming which all have large populations of wolves that have the ability to move from state to state, Washington is dependent on wolves coming from just two of these states to form the entire viable population and there are major barriers to their movement.
- Relocation is an important part of the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan - It is important to identify the Olympic Peninsula and Mt. St. Helens as the primary, preferred, and initial sites for moving wolves to. On the Olympic Peninsula, besides the many barriers wolves must cross to reach it naturally, the superb habitat and low possibility of wolf/human conflict make the Peninsula one of the best relocation sites in the state. Olympic National Park was identified by a 1980s National Park Service study as the No. 2 park for wolf reintroduction (after Yellowstone), and the US Forest Service completed a favorable feasibility study in 1999.
- Recovery Goal Should Be Established for Pacific Coast Region - It is inexplicable why this region does not have a recovery goal set for it apart from the Southern Cascades recovery region. As a separate region with different habitat, landscapes, and barriers to dispersal, specific recovery goals should be set to ensure reaching the objective of having returning wolves distributed in a significant portion of the species’ former range in Washington.
- Benefits Derived from Wolf Recovery Outweigh Costs - Targets set by the WWG represent a compromise meant to appease livestock producers concerned about economic losses caused by returning wolves. There is ample evidence that the benefit of wolves returning to Washington State, both economic and ecological, outweigh the costs.
Sierra Club Member Comments to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife:
The comments that follow represent the wide range of enthusiastic support for sound, science-based policy for the WDFW’s future management plans and actions:
“Thank you for your efforts to preserve the natural balance of the earth. I support the idea that human lives are enhanced when we are more integrated into that natural balance. The wolf is not only a fellow creature who shares that balance with us, but also a magnificent symbol of our past abusive practices and our opportunity to change.” (Jeff Virgin, Seattle)
“I just ran over a deer yesterday. There are way too many [of them]. What happened to the balance of nature that wolves would provide once more?”
“Please help wolves return to our beautiful state.” (Linda Long, Cheney)
“Having lived in Montana, I have seen the ecosystem benefits of having wolves back as a part of the natural system. I’ve also seen the tremendous popularity of wolf watching draw visitors to Yellowstone during what was once the ‘dead season’ for tourism.” (Robert L. Barry, Anacortes)
“I am 62 years old and have been aware of and dismayed by the endangered state of the few remaining wolf populations since I was 8 or 9 years old. I know that there are ways to accommodate the needs of farmers and ranchers while still maintaining a large enough and genetically diverse population. I urge you to take measures to do so. I always vote! Thanks, Sue. (Susan McCall, Spokane)
“The natural return of the Gray Wolf to Washington is indicative of the species’ will for survival and the suitability of our state’s landscape for sustainable habitation – let us respect this process and give a helping to correct this longstanding wrong. Please let them return to the Olympics.” (Sean Owen, Seattle)
“It is extremely important to my whole family to protect the great creatures of our wilds, especially since wolves have been unfairly maligned over so many years. They are an essential element in a healthy ecosystem.” (Barbara Lowe, Seattle)
“Washington State should celebrate the arrival of this crucial predator species back into our ecosystem. As opposed to Alaska, Idaho, and Montana where the wolf has been targeted for destruction, Washington should be a state where the species is fully protected and not at the mercy of hunters, ranchers, and the misinformed.” (Peter Fontaine, Seattle)
“As with everything else, there needs to be balance in nature. Grey wolves are part of that balance. We need them.” (Jeanette Kunnen, Shoreline)
“No ecosystem is healthy without the top predator in place!!” (Barbara & Jon Dahn, Bainbridge Island)
“How unhappy, depressed, and desperate would we all be without the wild spaces and all it contains.” (Megan Williams, Seattle)
“The wolf is an ancestor of our dogs. Our dogs are loved family members. Wolves have families and feel joy and pain like other creatures. Quality of life would be less with less animals. I will gladly cut down on things to help the animal world!” (Christa Karimi, Redmond)
“I have waited for 30 years to see wolves return to Washington and was thrilled to hear the howl of a wolf one winter ago.” (Eva Meassick)
“I am a Washington State deer and elk hunter of many years, but also support the presence back of wolves in our state’s diverse ecosystems. I believe wolves are an important missing piece in the health of our state’s wildlife habitat. I also had a wolf ‘visit’ my tent in Alaska and it is my #1 favorite wildlife experience in my 50 years of age, and would love that possibility here in Washington State for myself, my children, and others.” (Philip Perry Lundahl, Lynnwood)
“Let’s keep these magnificent animals around for everyone to enjoy. Nothing sounds so sweet as wolf song.” (Nancy Cacace, Vancouver)
“Wolves and all [other] animals are essential to our ecosystem.” (Arline J. Faruolo, Vancouver)
“Many other states have Wolf management plans, some better than others. Washington can easily pick from the best and leave the rest. The wolf has a definite and imiportant place in the Washington ecology.” (Thom Cathcart, Camas)
“We must do everything to protect the natural food chain or humans will also someday become extinct! Thank you.” (Kim Wilbanks, Ridgefield)
“Twenty years ago I was in North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alêne and chose ‘wolves’ for my thesis – so I know so much about them, got to watch them at Yellowstone, and have had three part-wolf domestic dogs (?) and love them so much. I don’t know if I can be present at Sequim to listen to negatives from people who don’t even want elk in their area. People seem to think a wolf would be waiting in the bushes to eat their babies, dogs, and cats. I’m thrilled they might be introduced to the Olympics.” (Rosemary Petersen, Port Angeles)
“ ‘The strength of the wolf is in the pack; the strength of the pack is in the wolf.’ “ (F. Terrence Grier, Sequim)
“Gray wolves (as all [other] native species) have the right to co-exist while not being pushed toward extinction.” (Carol Iverson-Scrol, Port Townsend)
“No denial of protection for these magnificent creatures.” (Jennifer Bunch, Port Townsend)
“I personally have heard gray wolves howl in the evening while camping in NE Washington and am grateful for the experience, one which I never thought possible. Oh, to see one!” (Thomas Miller, Freeland)
“Please help establish a healthy wolf population in Washington. It would be great to see them return throughout the state, including the Olympic Peninsula. Most importantly, a humane management plan that is designed for wolf survival as opposed to the design of a wolf hunting season is essential in these initial stages. Washington has the opportunity to set a standard for appropriate carnivore management that does not include lethal action. Our children and grandchildren will be thankful for the protective treasures we establish today.” (Lucas Hart, Port Townsend)
“I am a former U. S. Forest Service biologist and frequent tourist to Washington’s wild areas. The wildlife is what attracts me and other tourists – let’s keep it wild!” (Laura Girardeau, Pullman)
“Wolves are important to the balance of nature.” (Annie L. Knight, WA)
“We need to restore the natural balance between elk, deer, cougars, and coyotes.” (Raymond e. Bulloch, Poulsbo)