Originally published November 13, 2013 at 4:10 p.m., updated November 13, 2013 at 4:16 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. Two of the four elected officials representing North-Central Washington in the nation’s capitol were among those signing a letter today calling for removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list.
Reps. Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rodgers both signed the letter – along with 73 other members of congress – sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell did not.
Hastings heads the House Natural Resources Committee and represents part of Okanogan County in the 4th Congressional District.
McMorris Rodgers represents Ferry and part of Okanogan counties as the 5th Congressional District congresswoman.
“The full delisting of the gray wolf is long over due,” the letter said.
The letter supports a proposal submitted in June to remove the delist the gray wolf as either “endangered” or “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. It also opposes listing the Mexican wolf as a separate, endangered sub-species. It is the second letter sent to Ashe.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains in 2009 and in the Great Lake region in 2011.
Hastings said the current situation has created a confusing management and regulatory scheme that has left some states – including Washington, Oregon and Utah – in the unsustainable and random situation of having wolves listed on one side of a highway and delisted on the other.
He was referring to U.S. Highway 97 through Okanogan County, where wolves west of the highway are considered endangered and wolves east of it are not even threatened.
Overall, Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials believe 14 wolf packs are now present in the state: Teanaway, Wenatchee, Lookout, Hozomeen, Strawberry, Nc'Icn, Boulder Creek, Wedge, Smackout, Salmo, Diamond, Ruby Creek, Huckleberry and Walla Walla.
Only the Teanaway and Wenatchee packs are outside the 4th and 5th Congressional districts. And the Walla Walla pack is the only one not found in the northeast quadrant of the state.
State officials culled the Wedge pack in September 2012 after 17 cattle had been attacked in Stevens County.
“The statutory purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to recover species to the point where they are no longer considered ‘endangered’ or ‘threatened,’” the letter said. "The gray wolf is currently found in 46 countries around the world and has been placed in the classification of ‘least concern’ globally for risk of extinction...”
“This is a clear indication that this species is not endangered or threatened.”
The letter expressed opposition to creating a Mexican sub-species.
“Since wolves were first provided protections under the ESA, uncontrolled and unmanaged growth of wolf populations has resulted in devastating impacts on hunting and ranching and tragic damages to historically strong and healthy herds of moose, elk, big horn sheep and mule deer.
“This is why we believe it is critical that you reconsider your decision to list the Mexican wolf as a sub-species…”
The letter also suggests states are better able to manage recovered wolf populations than the federal government.
The full letter can be read online here.