All wildlife species present management challenges, especially wolves and other large carnivores that sometimes prey on livestock, pets, and other animals. As the state's wolf population continues to grow, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is actively working with livestock producers, hunters and others to minimize conflicts that may occur, recognizing that public acceptance is essential for wolf recovery to succeed on a statewide basis.
In 2013, WDFW created the Wolf Advisory Group to provide a broad range of perspectives to help inform this ongoing management effort. This group is tasked with recommending strategies for reducing conflicts with wolves outlined in the state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Specific issues include:
- Encouraging livestock producers to take proactive, preventative measures to decrease the risk of loss.
- Providing compensation for economic loss due to wolf predation.
- Monitoring recovery of the wolf population and its effect on prey species.
- Providing information to the public on wolf recovery in Washington.
Mission of WAG
To promote equitable, inclusive, and respectful dialogue and decision-making among diverse people to foster durable peace by transforming the root causes of social conflict and providing high quality recommendations on wolf recovery, conservation, and management.
The Wolf Advisory Group (WAG) envisions a future for Washington whereby:
- People have equal and balanced voices in decisions that impact their communities
- Diverse perspectives are welcomed and heard
- Mutual understanding of the needs of diverse communities and groups is achieved and respected
- Wolves are an opportunity for shared, constructive problem-solving
- The deeper roots of social conflict in Washington are continually transformed
- Healthy, sustainable populations of wolves and wild ungulates are achieved and maintained in balance
- Livestock and financial losses to livestock producers are minimized
- Diverse communities, including rural communities, livestock producers, hunters, environmental communities, and the interested public, are kept whole (in terms of quality of life), vibrant, and resilient
- The best available science is used for decision-making on group recommendations
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the Washington legislature are provided creative, inclusive recommendations for effective decision-making
- Public dialogue and mutual learning around wolves, ungulates, and natural resource issues are significantly improved
- There is continual fostering of high-quality dialogue and decision-making around wolves and related or emerging issues now and into the future
Decision-making (on advice/recommendations) among WAG
WAG chose to use a sufficient consensus model for decision-making (on recommendations to WDFW or problem-solving efforts among WAG), defined by WAG as:
- Diverse views are fully and genuinely welcomed and considered
- The issues are sufficiently discussed and understood from all angles
- Absent members have an opportunity to provide input and be heard fully by all members
- No more than three individuals disagree with the decision and all three cannot be from the same side (same side or in-group distinctions, for the purposes of WAG, are environmentalists, livestock producers, and hunters. Where there is overlap in in-group identities, the member may self-identify and align with the group they feel the strongest connection)
- Once a decision is reached, it will be supported by the entire group, including those who opposed the decision
- Dissenting voices recognize that maintaining the long-term integrity of the process and relationships is more important than the decision and therefore will work outside WAG and within their own group or community to 1) uphold support for the decision within their community or group and 2) ask for their organization or group to "stand aside" and not take action to oppose or overturn the decision, even if they themselves did not secure their preferred decision