Samantha Bruegger’s July 30 column (When it comes to killing Washington’s wolves, there are no rules) misrepresents wolf management efforts in northeast Washington.
We at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and dozens of dedicated volunteers have invested countless hours working collaboratively to develop both a wolf conservation and management plan and wolf-livestock interaction protocols that guide the Department’s actions regarding wolf management. It’s an approach recognized for its emphasis on consensus building.
The Department welcomes feedback on our programs, yet believes the current plan and protocol, as it relates to nonlethal deterrent measures and wolf lethal removals, allows needed flexibility to consider each individual and unique conflict situation. WDFW’s process is a responsible and reasonable approach that provides a way to meet the needs of residents and the wildlife that depend on us, in this case, gray wolves.
WDFW believes that working in collaboration with local communities and applying localized solutions will lead to a wolf conservation and management program that is more likely to succeed within individual communities where people, livestock, and wolves coexist daily. And, we know that residents’ interests are best served when we work together with conservation groups, livestock producers, elected officials and local communities to consider the needs of all involved.
With thoughtful agreements, we can, and are, applying this thinking to wolf management and many other issues. WDFW has a long history of successful collaborations at the local level that continue to ensure that the most difficult and complex activities, such as the lethal removal of a wolf, remains solely within our purview. These removal decisions are never made lightly and WDFW works actively to reduce losses of wolves.
WDFW is successfully managing the natural recovery of wolves in Washington — populations have grown every year. In 2019, the 11th consecutive year of population growth, the wolf population increased by 11 percent.
We ask the public to see past Bruegger’s assertions, and take the time to learn more about wolf recovery for themselves at wdfw.wa.gov/wolves.
Staci Lehman is a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.