WDFW Asks Congressman For Help Spurring USFWS Wolf Delisting

Washington wolf managers have asked a U.S. Congressman to spur federal officials into delisting the species across the state.

In a late April letter, WDFW’s new director, Jim Unsworth, told Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Central Washington) the agency would “appreciate your assistance to encourage the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the delisting of the gray wolf and remove it from federal protections under the Endangered Species Act.”

Noting that the state is expected to reach recovery goals in six years, Unsworth says WDFW wants “to have consistent management of wolves across the state.”


Currently, wolves are federally delisted in the eastern third of the state, which is where most of Washington’s packs are, but recently at least two individuals have been roaming the Cascades west of the crest.

If required, WDFW can lethally remove problem wolves east of Highways 97,17 and 395, as it has with the Wedge and Huckleberry Packs, but west of that line can’t, though that hasn’t been a problem, perhaps in part due to strong range-riding efforts.

The day after Unsworth sent his letter, Newhouse was among three dozen Congressmen who wrote to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and USFWS Director Dan Ashe to say they “are very concerned with the lack of progress USFWS and DOI have made on” delisting, originally proposed by the feds back in June 2013.

It was signed by fellow Eastside Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers as well as Eastern Oregon Rep. Greg Walden. Both are Republicans.

In January, when asked about a timeframe for a final decision on delisting, a USFWS spokesman in Portland told Northwest Sportsman, “At this point, we are not committing to a specific time frame. We had 1.6 million comments (more than anything else we’ve ever done by a huge margin) — all of which have to be read and addressed where appropriate.”

A week before he sent his letter to Jewell and Ashe, Newhouse introduced legislation to delist wolves throughout the Northwest, the third such bill this year addressing the species somewhere in the country.

“The bills to delist wolves in Congress appear to represent significant frustration with continued legal challenges to USFWS decisions and the stalemate that has created,” noted WDFW wolf policy lead Dave Ware last week. “Wolves continue to recover in Washington, and we are confident federal delisting would not undermine wolf recovery in Washington.  We are fully committed to, and capable of, managing a viable wolf population within our current authority and funding under the terms of the Wolf Plan.”

3 thoughts on “WDFW Asks Congressman For Help Spurring USFWS Wolf Delisting”

  1. The letter that was sent by the director of Washington Fish and Game is no surprise. Jim Unsworth the former Deputy director at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game was in part responsible for that state’s unconscionable policy towards wolves.

    idaho wolf management means that hunters are allowed to kill wolves almost non stop nearly year round using traps, snares , bow and arrow and bullets. If some wolves survive the hunters, IDFG lobbied for and contracted with Wildlife Services to kill packs of wolves in designated wilderness on public land. The state also created a wolf “management” board to determine how to kill more wolves.

    Unfortunately Washington has now inherited the politically motivated ideologies of a wildlife manager with a history of radical persecution of wolves. Under Unsworth’s former position as deputy director of IDFG wolf management meant killing as many wolves as possible often without public input and consent and on public lands in wilderness areas.

    The race to delist wolves is motivated by folks like Jim Unsworth who hide behind the facade of managing wolves responsibly but use irresponsible publicly unpopular policies to eradicate wolves. Without federal protections, wolves have no protection.

    There is an undeniable logic and scientific basis to protect wolves from state management plans. But there is also a responsibility for politicians to respect their constituent’s voices . In urging radical actions such as legislative delisting measures for wolves Jim Unsworth, Jack Ryan, Cynthia Lummis and the other sponsors of the bills urging delisting are ignoring their voters voices in favor of small minority interests with deep pockets.

    in the United States when the USFWS service proposed a national delisting of wolves, an unprecedented number of comments (1.6) million voters responded. In Oregon, when reviewing a state management plan, over 90 percent of a staggering 20,000 public comments were in favor of stronger protections for Oregon’s endangered gray wolves. In Washington, 76% of residents favored strong wolf recovery and preferred non-lethal management. In MI, voters recently voted down (2014) public hunting of wolves by a strong majority. And MN and WI residents and conservationists are working hard to overturn overly aggressive state plans and to protect wolves from special interest agendas and a small but vocal minority.

    National public polls consistently support a strong ESA and wolf recovery.??

    The bills to legislatively remove ESA protections from wolves cite the need to protect livestock. Yet it is critical that livestock losses due to wolves and wolf populations be put in perspective. USDA reports respiratory, calving, digestive and other health related problems as the leading causes of livestock losses nationally. In MI, like other states, wolf depredation is among the lowest cause of death.

    Livestock in the United States are counted in the tens if not hundreds of millions, wolf populations are less than an estimated 3000 to 5000 in the contiguous US, mostly on public lands, where hundreds of thousands once roamed.

    Wolves are only considered to be recovered in less than 5% of their former ranges. In WA and OR, the removal of ESA protections applies to 12 wolves in Washington and another six or so in Oregon. In Utah not one wolf resides within state borders although suitable habitat exists to support wolves.

    The introduction of the bills under false pretenses of managing wolves responsibly when examined under current state management strategies best illustrate why wolves still need protections. To isolate wolves for removal from ESA protections should be highly suspect.??

    Wolf populations are arguably relatively stable in some regions however, wolves are not recovered across a significant portion of their historic range, a requirement for delisting under the Endangered Species Act.

    Politicians and state managers like to frame the wolf debate by making it appear that the courts are interfering in state’s business and hindering good wolf management policies. But the courts have been consistent;y doing their job. Each time wolves have been been stripped of federal protection state agencies that are highly influenced by hunters and livestock producers push for overly aggressive or biologically damaging wolf management actions.

    Almost without fail, the courts have found the state management plans to be insufficient to protect wolves. Our system of democracy relies on independent judicial review to adjudicate policy and laws. The process of checks and balances is reliant on the ability for judicial review.

    The proposed delisting language on the bills before Congress and that Unsworth is advocating for not only prevents judicial review of administrative rulings that have been overturned by courts but also prevents wolves in some states from ever receiving federal protections.

    Washington residents have been cheated. They were on the road to enlightened reasonable wolf management strategies. Unsworth’s letter should put all residents on notice, the progressive direction of Washington’s wolf policy is in jeopardy and the agency under his direction is not to be trusted. .

  2. If you are considering delisting the Grey wolf, you are not as intelligent as I had thought you to be. Anyone who considered delisting an endangered species is an ignorant fool that would do such because they were bought! And I and many others will remember this.


    1. Come on, ESA is not like creating national parks, it is meant to aid recovery, not be something a species wears forever. These wolves are at the fringe of a larger population, they will be fine. AW NWS

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