OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking nominations for a citizen working group that will guide the department in developing a conservation and management plan for gray wolves in Washington.
The new group will consist of 14 members chosen by WDFW Director Jeff Koenings to represent a broad range of interests, including wildlife conservation, agriculture and hunting. A separate technical advisory group will also be formed to provide information and expertise to the citizen working group.
“We know that people have a variety of perspectives on wolves,” Koenings said. “We want to make sure this new working group reflects those various viewpoints. My goal is to involve those potentially affected by a resident wolf population in the department’s decision-making process. We want to listen and learn.”
Nominations to the working group are due to WDFW by 5 p.m., Oct. 30. Any individual or group may submit a nomination addressed to: Jeff Koenings, Director, Attn: Wolf Working Group, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
Nominations may also be submitted by FAX (360-902-2947) or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the nomination process is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/mgmt_plan_process.html or by calling (360) 902-2510.
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 in three states and parts of four other states—including Washington—from the federal list of endangered species.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has listed the gray wolf as a state endangered species and—as with all state endangered and threatened species—a plan must be developed to identify target population objectives and appropriate conservation and management strategies. Additionally, the plan will address wolf management in the state after the species is removed from the federal list of endangered species.
“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,” Koenings said. “We need to prepare for that possibility by developing a conservation and management plan that works for people and wildlife.”
A draft plan is scheduled for completion by Dec. 30, 2007, with the final plan due by June 30, 2008.
Nominations for the working group should include the nominee’s name, address, telephone number and email address; specific experience; reasons for applying; views on how a member should work with WDFW and other group members; and the methods he or she would use to communicate with WDFW and the public.
Koenings said nominees should be available to attend approximately six working group meetings per year, beginning as early as December 2006 and lasting into 2008. WDFW will provide financial assistance with meeting-related travel costs to working group members who request it.