WDFW Hiring 5 On Wolf Front As Agency Ramps Up Work On Species

Like to work outdoors in all kinds of weather and drive around in the mountains and woods a lot, have a degree in biology, are able to walk stooped over while carrying 40 pounds, and can talk to the public about the recovery of a certain species that may not be popular in the areas you’ll find yourself at all hours?

You, sir or madam, might find employ as one of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s newest hires. The agency is looking to bring a pair of wolf trappers on board this year.

They’re also hiring three techs to assist the trappers and work on other wolf issues.

It’s another sign that now that work on the state’s ginormous management and recovery plan is done, WDFW is getting more serious about tracking and mitigating for the state’s growing wolf population.

The current minimum estimate is 27 with additional animals likely in the Blue Mountains and Ross Lake area. Some hunters suspect five times that number, and one conservation group pegs the tally as high as 50.

According to WDFW’s job announcement, posted here, one trapper will work in the North Cascades, where the state’s first confirmed pack in 70 years showed up in summer 2008, the other in far Eastern Washington and the state’s northeastern and southeastern corners.

The nut of that job is to confirm wolf activity, trap adults and pups, sling telemetry collars around the grown models, send tracking data to HQ, deal with depredation or other conflicts, speak publicly, and write up a big report.

The gig pays from $3,200 to $4,100 a month, and lasts at least through June 2013, and possibly beyond that, depending on funding.

The tech positions pay $2,400 to $3,000 a month. They will set up trail cams, follow up on wolf sightings, and assist with livestock depredation issues. One would be posted to each of the state’s three recovery regions. The jobs are listed as nonpermanent in this announcement.

It’s unclear if the two trapping positions are in addition to Paul Frame, WDFW’s sole trapper. He captured at least four wolves last year.

Some sportsmen have been tough on him and the agency for not following up on and confirming more wolf reports around Washington.

Nate Pamplin, WDFW’s assistant wildlife program director, acknowledged skepticism about the department’s ability to track wolves and respond to livestock depredations.

“We’re trying to address that,” he says of the new hiring effort.

He also confirms another big change on the wolf front: a shift in who’s in charge of the state’s packs.

Pamplin says that the agency has shifted primary responsibility for implementation of the wolf plan from the Wildlife Program’s diversity section to the Game Division’s carnivore section, headed up by Donny Martorello, who already manages other top-end predators such as cougars and bears.

He says that dealing with wolves takes up quite a bit of time. Moving them into Martorello’s bailiwick frees up the diversity program’s Rocky Beach and Harriett Allen to deal with the state’s other threatened and endangered species.

While the shift drew a cry of alarm from Conservation Northwest, deeply involved in wolf recovery in Washington, Pamplin hopes that folks on both sides of the issue can see that the agency is making the species a top priority.

“Public expectations are high. We need to be responsive,” he says.

To pay for it all, Governor Gregoire’s supplemental budget contains $355,000 for wolf work (WDFW originally requested $150,000, then argued convincingly to increase it), and Pamplin told a state House agriculture committee he sent the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service a request for an additional $250,000.

At the end of this month, USFWS is also expected to announce its proposed listing status for wolves in the western two-thirds of the state. Currently, they’re listed as threatened there and recovered in the eastern third.

To apply for the trapper or tech positions, write a cover letter, polish up your resume, figure out three professional references and send the info to WDFW by midnight Feb. 14.

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