The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today enacted an emergency rule to permit ranchers, farmers, and other pet and livestock owners in the eastern third of the state to kill a wolf that is attacking their animals.
The emergency rule (attached below) allows farmers, ranchers and other domestic animal owners, including their employees or agents, to kill one wolf if it is attacking their animals under the following conditions:
- The rule applies only in areas of Eastern Washington where the gray wolf is not listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. The gray wolf is not federally listed in the eastern third of the state, designated in the state Wolf Conservation and Management Plan as the Eastern Washington Recovery Region.
- The rule allows the owner of a domestic animal to kill only one wolf, for the duration of the regulation. If the owner can make the case that subsequent attacks are likely, he or she will need a permit from the WDFW director to kill an additional wolf during an attack.
- The lethal removal must be reported to WDFW within 24 hours, and the carcass must be provided to the department.
- The owner of the domestic animal that was attacked must grant access or help the department gain access to the property where the wolf was killed to enable investigation and data collection.
- Anyone who kills a wolf that was not attacking a domestic animal as spelled out in the rule will be subject to criminal prosecution for the illegal taking of endangered wildlife.
“The commission remains committed to the goal of gray wolf recovery in Washington state,” said Wecker. “This rule provides an important option to help animal owners, but its impact is clearly limited to cases where wolves are in the act of attacking livestock or pets.”
Anderson said the commission’s action responds directly to the concerns and needs of residents in regions where wolves are recovering, and it underscores the importance of prevention.
“No one wants to experience a wolf attack on their livestock or pets,” he said. “There are several steps people can take to minimize that risk. But it can still happen, despite someone’s best efforts to prevent it.”
Anderson said animal owners can minimize wolf conflict by:
- Removing attractants to wolves. Good sanitation practices help keep wolves from hanging around pastures containing livestock and becoming habituated to those animals as a food source.
- Moving weakened animals off the range or pasture. Like any predator, wolves are attracted to more susceptible prey. Moving sick and injured animals to protected areas is a common, effective practice.
- Showing a human presence. Wolves prefer to stay away from humans, whom they see as a threat.
- Keeping pets, especially dogs, confined and protected at night.
- Keeping dogs on a leash when walking them where wolves might be present.
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EMERGENCY RULE AS APPROVED APRIL 26, 2013
WAC 232-36-05100B Killing wildlife causing private property damage
Notwithstanding the provisions of WAC 232-36-051:
1) An owner of domestic animals, including livestock, the owner’s immediate family member, the agent of an owner, or the owner’s documented employee may kill one gray wolf (Canis lupus) without a permit issued by the director, regardless of its state classification, if the wolf is attacking their domestic animals.
(a) This section applies to the area of the state where the gray wolf is not listed as endangered or threatened under the federal endangered species act.(b) Any wolf killed under this authority must be reported to the department within twenty-four hours.
(c) The wolf carcass must be surrendered to the department.
(d) The owner of the domestic animal must grant or assist the department in gaining access to the property where the wolf was killed for the purposes of data collection or incident investigation.
(2) If the department finds that a private citizen killed a gray wolf that was not attacking a domestic animal, or that the killing was not consistent with this rule, then that person may be prosecuted for unlawful taking of endangered wildlife under RCW 77.15.120.
(3) In addition to the provisions of (1), the director may authorize additional removals under RCW 77.12.240.