SPOKANE, Wash. — A state commission has approved the killing of gray wolves that are caught in the act of attacking livestock or pets.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday approved a temporary emergency rule allowing pet and livestock owners to immediately kill one wolf if it is attacking their property.

Commissioners voted unanimously for the rule, noting there have been recent and escalating reports of wolf attacks on pets and livestock.

Wolf numbers have grown rapidly in Washington in recent years as the animals migrate into the state from other states.

The commission’s emergency rule can remain in effect for up to eight months. The commission also decided it will pursue a permanent rule allowing the killing of a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock or pets.

— The Associated Press

Original blog post is below.

Wolves, and in particular how people may legally react to close encounters with wolves, are such a hot potato in Washington that the elected folks are leaving it up to the appointed folks to set policy when it comes to what one might call “wolf defense.”

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will convene in special session at 1 p.m. today in Olympia to consider “rule-making relative to wolf management.” The expectation is that the commission will consider adopting — or not adopting — an emergency rule that would enable people in the eastern one-third of the state to protect livestock or pets from an attacking wolf.

Several pieces of proposed legislation on that subject have been floating around the halls and committee sessions of Olympia, especially since a much-publicized incident in Twisp in which a wolf from the Lookout Pack attacked a pet dog (interestingly, a wolf hybrid) on the deck of a private home. The Legislature’s response has been to ask wildlife commissioners to carry the ball on this one, and that’s what the meeting is about.

Because of the high interest in Eastern Washington in anything wolf-related, people in this half of the state will be able to listen in on audio from the 1 p.m. meeting (during which some commissioners will be weighing in via conference call) at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offices in Yakima, Ephrata and Spokane. The Yakima office is located at 1701 S. 24th Ave.

Whatever decision commissioners arrive at will not directly impact Yakima-area residents, since only in the eastern one-third of the state could the state approve such a measure, because wolves are federally delisted there. The dividing line between state and federal wolf management runs along Highway 17 through Othello and down to the Tri-Cities. In the state’s eastern two-thirds, in which Yakima falls, gray wolves are federally protected — for now, anyway.

That could change soon. The Los Angeles Times reported today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is close to stripping Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves across the United States, except for Mexican gray wolves in the southwest states.