A local meeting planned for October to discuss the state’s wolf population and the drafting of a post-recovery management plan has been canceled.
There will be no meeting Oct. 7 at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The state Department of Fish & Wildlife canceled that meeting and several others planned throughout the state out of fear of violence, according to a news release.
That fear stems from controversy over Fish & Wildlife’s recent decision to kill wolves in Northeast Washington.
The Associated Press reported that in response to complaints from a ranch in Ferry County that wolves were killing cattle, Fish & Wildlife killed the wolves that made up the Old Profanity Territory Pack.
Wolves from that pack last attacked cattle Aug. 5, according to Fish & Wildlife, and the state agency killed the last four wolves of the pack Aug. 16.
Conservation and animal rights organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity responded to the killing with outrage, calling it tragic and sickening.
“We need wildlife managers who protect wolves instead of repeatedly executing these incredible animals,” Sophia Ressler, a wildlife advocate and staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a prepared statement.
Following the controversy that emerged over the decimation of the Old Profanity Territory pack, Fish & Wildlife announced last week that it had canceled all meetings planned for the early phase of the post-recovery management plan process.
“We’ve seen incredible intensity around wolf issues this summer, on both sides of the issue,” Fish & Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind said in the release. “Unfortunately, we’ve received some information that indicates to us that the meetings could be disrupted, possibly creating an unsafe meeting environment for the public participating.”
Meetings will be held by online webinar only. Fish & Wildlife plans to host three webinars, on dates yet to be determined.
The purpose of a post-recovery management plan is to have guidance in place for maintaining a wolf population in the state after the species is removed from state and federal endangered species lists.
Wolf populations in many states have been growing, and the U.S. Department of the Interior proposed in March removing the species’ endangered species status nationwide.
More information about wolf recovery and the webinars, once scheduled, is available online.