SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Environmental groups on Thursday asked Gov. Jay Inslee to push for the creation of strict rules limiting when wolves can be killed in response to livestock depredations.
Their petition sought to limit when the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can kill wolves. It would also require ranchers to use nonlethal measures to protect their livestock.
Rules similar to those requested by the petition are in place in Oregon.
The groups made the request as the state was in the process this week of trying to kill four wolves in the Huckleberry Pack in an effort to protect a herd of sheep. One wolf has been killed so far.
Wolves were hunted to extinction a century ago in Washington. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a comeback by entering Washington from Idaho and British Columbia. The state is estimated to have 52 wolves in 13 packs.
“All we’re asking for are some very reasonable standards on what ranchers need to do to protect their livestock and when the state can step in and kill an endangered species,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The governor’s office has 45 days to respond to the request. The office has received the petition and will review the request, Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said.
In 2012, the state killed seven wolves in the Wedge Pack despite the fact that the rancher had taken little action to protect his stock, the environmental groups said.
They contend the situation is similar with the Huckleberry Pack.
However, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has said the owner of the sheep herd has taken numerous nonlethal steps to protect his 1,800 animals. But wolves keep killing the sheep.
Conservation groups filed a similar petition in 2013, but they withdrew it based on promises from the Fish and Wildlife to negotiate new rules governing lethal methods of wolf management. No negotiations have taken place, the environmental groups said.
The groups appealing to Inslee also include Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club.