Washington Fish and Wildlife moves to partially dismiss wolf suit


OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Fish and Wildlife will ask a King County judge Jan. 3 to partially dismiss a lawsuit that opposes shooting wolves, seeking to repeat the success it had in another Western Washington courtroom.

The Capital Press reports wolf advocates are suing to stop the department from killing wolves until it completes an environmental review that could take years. The department argues it’s obligated to promptly remove nuisance wildlife, including wolves attacking livestock.

A Thurston County judge in November agreed with Fish and Wildlife, narrowing but not ending a suit brought by environmental groups in 2018.

Wolf advocates hope for a different outcome in King County. Their lawsuit challenges the killing of wolves in 2019.

Another year of culling wolfpacks bolsters the argument that Fish and Wildlife has a “kill program” that should have been reviewed under the State Environmental Policy Act, the advocates’ attorney, Jonathon Bashford, said Monday.

The separate lawsuits in King and Thurston counties challenge a Fish and Wildlife lethal-removal protocol that applies to the eastern one-third of Washington.

In the western two-thirds of the state, the policy has no on-the-ground effect because wolves are federally protected.

The lawsuits claim Fish and Wildlife has violated SEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act, a law that calls for public review of agency actions. The APA claim is still pending in Thurston County.

An environmental review was conducted before Fish and Wildlife adopted a wolf recovery plan in 2011, and the department says it’s not doing anything that contradicts the plan.