January 08, 2007
Contact: Rocky Beach, (360) 902-2510
Working group named
to develop state wolf plan
OLYMPIA – Eighteen citizens have been selected as members of a working group to guide the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in developing a plan for conservation and management of gray wolves that are expected to make their way to this state from growing populations in neighboring states and Canada.
Ten of the working group members are from eastern Washington, and eight are from the west side of the state. They represent livestock ranching and agriculture, local government, conservation groups, biologists, the timber industry, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts.
The working group members are:
- Daryl Asmussen of Tonasket, cattle rancher
- John Blankenship of Tenino, Wolf Haven International executive director
- Duane Cocking of Newman Lake, sportsman
- Jeff Dawson of Colville, cattle rancher
- Paula J. DelGiudice of Seattle, sportswoman, National Wildlife Federation Western Natural Resource Center director
- Gerry Ring Erickson of Shelton, former Defenders of Wildlife Washington state field representative
- Jack Field of Ellensburg, Washington Cattlemen’s Association executive vice-president
- George Halekas of Deer Park, retired Forest Service biologist
- Kim Holt of Snohomish, Wolf Recovery Foundation secretary-treasurer
- Derrick Knowles of Spokane, Conservation Northwest outreach coordinator
- Colleen McShane of Seattle, consulting ecologist
- Ken Oliver of Newport, Pend Oreille County Commissioner
- Tommy Petrie, Jr. of Newport, Pend Oreille County Sportsmen’s Club president
- John Stuhlmiller of Lacey, Washington Farm Bureau assistant director of government relations
- Arthur Swannack of Lamont, Washington Sheep Producers president
- Bob Tuck of Selah, consulting biologist, former Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner
- Greta M. Wiegand of Seattle, retiree, outdoor recreationist
- Georg Ziegltrum of Olympia, Washington Forest Protection Association wildlife biologist
“This is a diverse group of people representing a wide range of interests that could be affected by future resident wolf populations in Washington,” said Jeff Koenings, PhD., director of WDFW. “We selected individuals who have a track record of building consensus.”
A total of 56 people submitted applications or were nominated for the working group.
Although gray wolves were largely eradicated in Washington by the 1930s, sightings have increased since federal wolf-recovery efforts began in Idaho and Montana in the mid-1990s. The success of those efforts has prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose removing gray wolf populations from the federal list of endangered species in three states and parts of four other states, including Washington.
“If gray wolves are removed from federal species protection status, Washington and other western states will have primary responsibility for managing their wolf populations,” Koenings said. “We need to prepare for that possibility by developing a conservation and management plan that works for people and wildlife.”
The gray wolf is also designated as a state endangered species in Washington, so the plan must identify population objectives and appropriate conservation and management strategies, as well as addressing wolf management in Washington after the species is removed from the federal list of endangered species.
The working group will convene next month and will meet approximately every other month over the coming year. A draft plan is scheduled for completion by Dec. 30, and will be followed by a public review period. The final plan is expected by June 30, 2008.
A separate technical advisory group of biologists from state and federal agencies also will be formed to provide information and expertise to the citizen working group.