July 30, 2007
Contact: Rocky Beach, (360) 902-2510
or Harriet Allen, (360) 902-2694
Public meetings, comment period scheduled
on state wolf management
Citizens can comment on gray wolf management in Washington state, during public meetings Aug. 14-23, and in writing through Aug. 31.
The series of public “scoping” meetings is being held by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and an 18-member citizen working group that is advising WDFW on development of a draft wolf-management plan.
“This public comment opportunity is intended to ensure that we receive a full range of citizen views as we develop a conservation and management plan for the gray wolf,” said Rocky Beach, WDFW wildlife diversity manager.
While the state will not re-introduce wolves, the species is expected to re-establish in Washington on its own as wolf numbers increase in neighboring states and Canada.
To prepare for return of wolves, a citizen working group appointed by WDFW has been meeting since early this year The working group includes representatives from the livestock and timber industries, conservation groups, local government, hunters and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Additional public comment will be taken on the draft plan when it is completed next year.
The eventual wolf-management plan is expected to include gray wolf population objectives, wolf-livestock conflict resolution, wolf-game species interactions, wolf-human interactions and other issues.
The public meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the following locations:
- Clarkston, Aug. 14, at the Clarkston Center of Walla Walla Community College, 1470 Bridge St.
- Spokane, Aug. 15, at Mount Spokane High School, 6015 E. Mount Spokane Park Drive.
- Yakima, Aug. 16, at the Ahtanum Youth Park barn facility, 1000 Ahtanum Road (parking fee waived for meeting attendees)
- Twisp, Aug. 20, at the Methow Valley Community Center, 201 S. Methow Valley Highway.
- Sequim, Aug. 21, at the Guy Cole Convention Center, Carrie Blake Park, 212 Blake Ave.
- Bellingham, Aug. 22, at Whatcom Community College, 237 West Kellogg St.
- Vancouver, Aug. 23, at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way.
Written public comments also will be taken by mail or email through the end of August, as part of the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the wolf plan under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Comments will be taken through Aug. 31, by e-mail to SEPAdesk@dfw.wa.gov (include “Wolf Plan Scoping” and commenter name in e-mail subject line) or by surface mail to Wolf Plan Scoping, SEPA Desk-Habitat Division, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
Although gray wolves were largely eradicated in Washington by the 1930s, sightings have increased since federal recovery efforts were initiated 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. The state plan will address wolf management in Washington after the species is removed from the federal list of endangered species.
Since the gray wolf is also designated as a state endangered species in Washington, the plan must identify population objectives and appropriate conservation and management strategies.
“If gray wolves are de-listed by the federal government, the main difference will be that Washington and other western states will have the primary responsibility for managing their wolf populations,” Beach said. “We need to prepare for that possibility by developing a conservation and management plan that works for people and wildlife.”
Once a draft wolf conservation and management plan is developed next year, additional public review opportunities will be offered. The final plan is expected to be complete by June 30, 2008.
More information about citizen working group members, the group’s operating principles and gray wolf facts can be found on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/index.htm.