States Seek Greater Role in Wolf Management

Published October 5, 2012

Wildlife officials in several states are seeking a greater role in the management of wolf populations. State officials say federal oversight is unnecessary and redundant.

Redundant Federal Oversight

Federal Fish and Wildlife Service officials are considering whether to remove wolves from national endangered species list protections, and are focusing on regions in Washington and Oregon.

“We don’t see a real need for continued federal protections when the state protections are there,” said Dave Ware, Washington state game division manager,” according to the Seattle Times on Aug. 27.
Tim L. Hiller, a coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, agreed. 

“It seems very redundant to have a regulatory process at the state and federal level for that portion of Oregon,” the Seattle Times article quoted him as saying.

Federal wildlife officials say they are taking into consideration the opinions of state wildlife officials.

“We are looking at a classification of wolves across the United States, including in the Pacific Northwest. Some of these have already been delisted,… and we are reviewing to determine whether we should have them all delisted, or keep them as endangered or threatened,” Joan Jewett, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Pacific Region, told Environment & Climate News.

Roaming Wolf Packs

Confusion over how to treat roving wolf populations is in part driving federal research, Jewett said. 

“We have wolves in portions of Oregon and Washington that have been dispersed from part of Idaho, where they’re delisted,” she said. “But if the wolf crosses [into another state], it would be considered endangered. So this impacts how people can respond to that [wolf]. It makes a difference.”

As wolf populations increase, so do the chances of wolves roaming across state lines, she noted. 

Ranchers Fear Cattle Losses

For ranchers, the issue is contentious and crucial.

“We’re getting to the point that the population is expanding,” said Paul Guppy, vice president for research at the Washington Policy Center. “But for ranchers, they can’t just go out and shoot a wolf. The state officials would need to make a determination [of justified killing],… and there’s increasing conflict between the wolf population and people who are just trying to make a living.”

Part of the problem, said Karla Kay Edwards, state director for Americans for Prosperity in Oregon, is federal and state programs that reimburse ranchers for cattle lost to wolf kills often require a higher threshold of evidence than a rancher can provide. 

“It’s nearly impossible to confirm a wolf kill,” she said. “In most cases, I would tell you that any removal of federal bureaucracy and any shift of federal bureaucracy to the state should be a positive motion.”

Cheryl Chumley is a digital editor with The Washington Times’ newest endeavor,