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Gratitude, Sorrow for Wolf Researcher Who’s Out at WSU

i May 15th by

The Seattle Times reports that wolf researcher Robert Wielgus has accepted a $300,000 settlement from Washington State University and has left the school.

“Wielgus tracked the behavior of wolves and cattle and learned that the state’s policy of killing wolves that had preyed on cattle was likely to lead to more cattle predation, not less, because it destabilized the structure of wolf packs,” reporter Lynda Mapes wrote.

“The research was unpopular with ranchers, who complained to lawmakers in the Washington State Legislature, who, in turn, cut Wielgus’ funding and removed him as principal investigator on his ongoing work, passing the funds through another researcher. It was a highly unusual move that eliminated Wielgus’ money for travel, speaking at conferences or for research in the summer, the peak field months for his work.”

Wielgus filed a lawsuit against WSU saying he was silenced for political reasons — a lawsuit that ends with this settlement. More information from Wielgus, including a video, is posted at Protecting Employees Who Protect Our Environment (PEER).
We remember when he spoke out about the practices of one rancher, for whom the state has killed wolves in the Profanity Peak, Wedge and Sherman packs — and how he went silent after that — and express our thanks for the wolf research he did with integrity and our sadness that he’s no longer doing that research at WSU.