Target: Jim Unsworth, Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Goal: Prevent any future slaughter of wolves on public land.
In August of this year, Len and Bill McIrven led their cattle onto public land and into the Profanity Peak wolf pack’s territory. At least five cattle were killed. In response, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ordered the culling of the pack, which they did by tracking two radio-collared members of the pack and shooting from a helicopter, according to the department’s own press release. At least six wolves were killed according to the Seattle Times.
The rancher whose cattle were killed has a history of not abiding by wolf conservation protocol, and this is not the first time the WDFW has stepped in after this rancher’s cattle were targeted by wolves. “McIrvin also is not a signatory to the state’s voluntary agreements with ranchers to adopt certain tactics to avoid wolf conflicts or compensation agreements,” the Seattle Times reports.
The most concerning element of this is that this is all happening on public land – land designated for public use and rented by ranchers at well below market value, according to multiple sources, including the Center for Biological Diversity. If that land – away from private property and rancher-owned territory – is not safe for wolves, where exactly are these animals safe to continue their role in an increasingly fragile ecosystem?
We propose that by renting public land for grazing, ranchers agree that they forfeit the state’s protection from natural predators. By signing the petition below, you will help urge the WDFW to halt the slaughter and reconsider who they’re protecting – an ecosystem, or a wealthy family’s economic interests.
Dear Director Unsworth,
After the public relations nightmare of the killing of the Profanity Peak wolf pack, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to reconsider its policy regarding wolf protection in its state. While the need for communicating with and considering the needs of all parties, including ranchers, is, of course, important to a thoughtful approach to this issue, we feel that in this case the ranchers’ voice is louder than everyone else’s.
By using public land that is part of the wolves’ territory, ranchers accept the risk that they are leading their cattle into a predatory area, and that risk is something they knowingly take by paying below-market value to use public land instead of the higher cost of renting private land to graze on.
We feel that by renting public land to graze, ranchers should enter a contract that protects the wolves from being punished for their natural instincts. By allowing ranchers to use public land at below-market value, a practice that has been happening in Washington for as long as the use of public land has existed, the cost of the loss of cattle is built in. There is no need to cull the numbers of wolves further, especially for the sake of a family that has no history of cooperating with wolf avoidance policies.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Katerina Hlvata