Washington Fish and Wildlife head Kelly Susewind recommends de-listing wolves from federal protection


(STAFF REPORTS/Chewelah Independent)

Wolves have recovered in Washington largely in the NE corner of the state. (WDFW photo)

Susewind said withdrawing federal protection was appropriate and timely…

The Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has called for wolves to be removed from the federal endangered species list in the state as numbers continue to show good growth, according to an article in the Capital Press.

Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind wrote in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that their proposal to withdraw federal protection away from gray wolves was both appropriate and timely, especially in relation to the western two-thirds of the state as the eastern third is currently managed by the state, the Capital Press article said, also citing that the WDFW feels the wolf population in the state is headed toward successful recovery.

Wolves have already been delisted in Eastern Washington and Oregon, and also in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and now the USFW is saying gray wolves in other areas are no longer qualified for federal protection as endangered or threatened, the article said.

According to the article, wolf growth in Washington, predominantly in the northeast corner of the state, has been averaging about 28 percent since 2008, though that growth has been in the single digits over the lats two years. The first pack of wolves west of the Cascades was documented last year by WDFW. These packs place the wolves in Central to Western Washington as the western edge of the recovering wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains and British Columbia regions, the Capital Press said.

In a recent conversation with the Chewelah Independent, Susewind had said the department needs to start looking into what they’re going to do once wolves are no longer considered endangered.

“We’re going to get more aggressive on what we do post-delisting with the wolves,” Susewind said.

Also when talking to The Independent, he touched on how the wolves will naturally disperse from the NE Washington part of the state and had mentioned that the department was possible looking into some translocation practices.

“Realistically, wolves moving to the other areas of the state will be a natural dispersal,” Susewind said. “It is what you would expect as an area gets saturated with as many packs as it can support and then they start to move out further.”

Susewind wrote in the letter that the state is properly prepared to take on the wolf management and would happy to see federal resources diverted to other species in need, the Capital Press said, also noting that keeping the wolves protected would expose the Endangered Species Act to criticism and could weaken legislation protecting species in danger of extinction.

Should WDFW take over control, they would consider the use of lethal force to protect livestock from attacks made by wolfpacks, the Capital Press wrote.