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December 22, 2014

WARAW wants Fish and Wildlife to move beyond social management of wolves

Groups asks for specific data related to predator

In a continuing effort to bring better discussion and attention to the wolf issue in Eastern Washington, Washington Residents Against Wolves (WARAW) has asked the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department(WDFW) to disclose information crucial to wolf management.

“We are very concerned that management of the wolf is becoming a spontaneous affair by WDFW that is not guided by data and is not following the state wolf management plan,” said WARAW spokesman Luke Hedquist. “We believe that real, regionally specific data needs to be used in order for management to be solid.”

Data the group is asking for includes ungulate counts for Eastern Washington and the anticipated prey demands of the 12 wolf packs that already inhabit the region. WARAW is concerned that the data in regards to available prey has not been thorough and has not considered the demands of other predators like cougars, bears and coyotes, for instance.

“The state wolf management plan notes that predators like cougars have had poor body condition and survival rates in other areas where wolves recolonized, but makes no attempt to determine the prey needs of both species in terms of numbers in Eastern Washington,” Hedquist said. “Without knowing how much prey our current predators like cougars and bears need, how can we be sure there is enough left for wolves? There is just a huge body of data that is missing.”

Impacts to ungulate herds and how herd declines will be quantified is also of particular concern to the group.

“The state plan says that if ungulates numbers in the state drop below 25 percent of their objective for two years that wolf reductions could be considered, but the way WDFW currently determines populations is on hunter harvest reports,” said Hedquist. “Essentially, that’s counting the dead animals, not the live ones.”

In an effort to encourage the state to start collecting the needed data, WARAW recently sent a letter to WDFW, asking the Department disclose what data is actually available and what is not.

WARAW also wants to know why WDFW has not started any of the environmental assessments to determine if wolves can be translocated to other regions of the state in order to satisfy the state recovery goals for wolves. The Wolf Management and Conservation plan calls for 15 breeding pairs in three different regions on the state, but despite growing numbers in Eastern Washington and mounting wolf conflicts, translocation is being ignored.

“We all know that the state and federal environmental assessments needed for translocation can take several years and should have been started much sooner,” said Hedquist. “At this point WDFW has not even taken the first step in this direction. It really questions how committed they are to wolf recovery as outlined by the plan.”

Hedquist said by pushing for data, translocation and better management WARAW is working to see wolf management transition from “social management” to management driven by facts and reality.

“What we know about wolf reintroduction is that it was a purely emotional move driven by sentiment and politics, not by science and data,” said Hedquist. “However, in Washington this just isn’t going to be good enough. We want management based on reality, not feelings. While WDFW has said before that they are ‘socially managing’ wolves, we have to demand more than that. We must pursue data and be realistic about the impacts and the dangers. It’s time for Washingtonians to wake up.”


November 24, 2014

Second wolf billboard warns of human dangers from wolves

Attacks, disease from wolves are real concerns

SPOKANE,WA—The group Washington Residents Against Wolves (WARAW) has released a second set of anti-wolf billboards in the Spokane area this week in an effort to promote awareness on the wolf issue.

The additional four billboards located on Maple, Trent, Pines and Nevada streets in Spokane join the first set released on Nov. 15 that featured a picture of a wolf and the questions, “Endangered? No, Deadly? Yes, Good for Washington? Absolutely not.” The second set features a number of animals including deer, elk, a calf, dog and a young girl on a swing. The caption reads, “The wolf—who’s next on their menu?”

WARAW Spokesman Luke Hedquist said the billboards are not designed to create a blind hatred of the wolf and that the organization is not interested in demonizing a particular animal.

“What we want is for people to ask very serious questions about the presence of wolves in Washington State before the reality confronts them,” Hedquist said. “We do not despise the wolf for being a wolf. Wolves are efficient killers and can provide a necessary control on ungulate herds in some situations, but the job of ‘predator’ in Washington is already filled by cougars, bears and coyotes. By adding a wolf to the mix, we are forcing predators to compete for a limited prey base and we know they will move on to domestic animals and possibly children as new sources of food.”

The most recent billboard should prompt people to consider the risk posed to humans by wolves.
“Along with documented instances of wolves attacking and killing people, there is also the disease issue to consider,” Hedquist said. “Wolves can carry the tapeworm, Echinococcosis granulosus, that can be transferred to humans. This worm creates major capillary beds in the liver, lung, brain where they develop into large cysts full of tiny tapeworm heads, also known as hydatid disease. These cysts can kill infected persons unless they are diagnosed and removed surgically.”

Hedquist noted that the parasitic disease that affects an estimated 2–3 million people and results in an annual monetary loss of over $750,000,000 worldwide. Incidents of human infection increase as exposure to the canine feces that carry the parasite also increases. The Centers for Disease Control and every state where wolves are present, except Washington, warns the public of the dangers via public information campaigns.

“This should serve as a wakeup call to Washington State as our wolf numbers continue to increase,” said Hedquist. “There are real dangers to human health for failing to manage the wolf and control its population numbers. “
WARAW plans to send a letter to WDFW calling for better data in regards to wolf management, particularly in regards to available prey; possible conflicts between predator species and revised goals for determining “recovered” wolf populations. They also want the Department to start a statewide public information campaign on Echinococcosis granulosus and hydatid disease.

“We are not satisfied with WDFW’s stance on the disease issue in particular, as they have been largely dismissive regarding the risks and the need to inform the public,” said Hedquist. “We need to be proactive when it concerns public health.”

WARAW billboard 1


***********PRESS RELEASE***********************

November 17, 2014

‘People need to know what having wolves really means’

Billboard campaign first step for new citizens’ group

SPOKANE,WAOver the weekend, a billboard campaign launched in Spokane that is designed to inform residents about the reality of an increasing number of wolves in Washington State. The four billboards in various locations around the Spokane area are sponsored by Washington Residents Against Wolves (WARAW), an activist group that aims to promote sound management of the predator.

“The aim of the billboard campaign is to encourage people to ask more questions about what having wolves in Washington really means,” said Luke Hedquist, a member of WARAW. “People need to consider the challenges associated with wolves. Wolves can and will attack people, livestock will be killed and maimed, private property will be compromised and local economies will be impacted. We want to make sure people thoroughly understand the issue, so we started by trying to get people’s attention with the billboards.”

The initial billboard message features a wolf photo and the questions, “Endangered? No. Deadly? Yes. Good for Washington? Absolutely not.“

According to Hedquist, one of the key items not being discussed is how quickly wolves will deplete wildlife herds in the state. With 13 packs and at least 52 wolves estimated to be within the state’s borders already, the effects will be rapid.

“We know by watching wolves in other states that it is common for the population to increase by 38 percent on average each year,” said Hedquist. “So when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) says we had 52 wolves in 2013, we can estimate the prey demand by multiplying that number by the average of 17.5 pounds of meat per week, per wolf. The 100 wolves we are likely to have in 2015, for example, will need at least 364 elk per year just to survive. Since elk are some of the largest ungulates, the numbers would be even higher when considering the impacts to deer or our small moose population.”

Using these same estimates, Hedquist emphasized that by 2021, Eastern Washington would need a minimum of 1,456 elk for over 400 wolves just to survive, aside from the sport killing wolves regularly engage in. This will be a significant impact, as six of Washington’s 10 elk herds reside in Eastern Washington, numbering roughly 3,600 animals. The wolf demand alone, aside from the needs from other predators like cougars and bears, would nearly half the population.

This is bad news not only for predators in the affected ecosystems, but the communities that depending on seasonal hunting revenue.

“As the elk and other ungulates are impacted by wolves, we will see fewer animals for other predators like cougar and bear; a decline in the number of animals available to hunt and significant impacts to local economies as hunters go elsewhere,” Hedquist said. “It’s also important to remember that at this point, wolves are not moving across Washington and WDFW is making no moves to either reduce the number of wolves or translocate the Eastern Washington excess to other parts of the state. So we should be prepared for Eastern Washington to bear the full brunt of the cost. Frankly, that cost is unacceptable.”

For more information, visit http://www.waraw.org.

WARAW is composed of citizens concerned about the humane treatment of animals, effective wildlife management, private property rights, safe recreational access in the great outdoors and preventing the killing and maiming of domestic animals.

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