New Suit Filed Over Rising Wolf Body Count in Washington

18th of Jun 2020

howling wolf protect environmental law Advocates for the West

Twenty-six wolves killed—including the Profanity Peak Pack—due to agency’s continued preferential treatment for livestock grazing over coexistence with wildlife.

Advocates for the West filed suit yesterday over the U.S. Forest Service’s inaction to protect gray wolves in Washington’s Colville National Forest, where livestock ranching activities have incited conflict. The agency’s negligence has resulted in the deaths of 26 wolves since 2012, including the destruction of both the Profanity Peak Pack and the Old Profanity Territory Pack.  
Our lawsuit challenges the Forest Service’s revised Colville National Forest Plan for failing to evaluate how the agency’s federally permitted livestock grazing program adversely affects wolves—a species eradicated from most of the contiguous United States by the 1920’s and successfully reintroduced in the 90’s. 
Our suit also challenges the Forest Service’s approval of cattle grazing for Diamond M Ranch without requiring any measures to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts from recurring. This ranching operation is responsible for the majority of wolf deaths on the Colville National Forest since 2012.
Located in the Kettle River Range and the Selkirk Mountains, the Colville National Forest is mostly comprised of densely forested, rugged terrain — ideal habitat for native carnivores like wolves, grizzly bear, and lynx. Yet nearly 70% of the forest (about 745,000 acres) is allocated to livestock grazing, making the region the epicenter of wolf-livestock conflicts in Washington. 
In its newly revised Forest Plan, adopted in October 2019, the Colville National Forest failed to even acknowledge the gray wolf’s return to the region, yet the plan sets management directives for livestock grazing, wildlife and other uses across the forest’s 1.1 million-acres for the next 15 to 30 years. 

“Unfortunately, it takes litigation to force federal agencies to fulfill their legal duties when it comes to dealing with conflicts between livestock and gray wolves, and this case is just another example,” said Senior Attorney Laurie Rule, who is co-counsel on this case along with Jennifer Schwartz of WildEarth Guardians and Talasi Brooks of Western Watersheds Project (WWP).
A new wolf pack, the Kettle Pack, has recently been spotted in the region. With cattle just turned out on the Colville National Forest for the 2020 grazing season, the success of our suit could be critical to the survival of these wolves. We hope to force the Forest Service to take swift action and uphold its lawful duty to protect this species.
We represent WWP, WildEarth Guardians and Kettle Range Conservation Group in this case.