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Groups Sue Washington State To Stop Killing Wolves

Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit Monday that seeks to stop the state of Washington from killing more wolves.

The lawsuit was filed by The Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands in Thurston County Superior Court.

It asserts that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s killing of wolves in two packs in the northeastern part of the state relied on a faulty protocol and failed to undergo required environmental analysis.

According to the lawsuit, Fish and Wildlife officials adopted a revised “wolf-livestock interaction protocol” in June for determining when to kill wolves in response to livestock conflicts.

The lawsuit claims the protocol provided for the state to kill wolves more quickly than in prior years and was adopted without public input or environmental review, in violation of the state’s Environmental Policy and Administrative Procedure Acts.

“Reasonable minds can differ on when we should and should not be killing wolves, and whether the killing of the wolves in these two packs was justified,” Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands, said in a news release. “But there is no question that we should be fully analyzing the efficacy of these actions, welcoming public and scientific input, and be able to hold the state accountable.”

Agency spokesman Bruce Botka said officials haven’t had the opportunity to review the lawsuit and don’t have an immediate response.

Officials have said previously that they authorize incremental lethal control of wolves in accordance with established protocols after nonlethal prevention techniques fail.

The department has relied on the June protocol to order killing of wolves from two packs, with two wolves from the Smackout pack and one wolf from the Sherman pack killed to date, according to the lawsuit.

The agency has temporarily paused killing wolves from both packs, but has said it will resume if there are more livestock losses.

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