The next few years could be crucial ones in Washington’s wolf world, and with the Department of Fish and Wildlife putting out the call for nominations to its Wolf Advisory Group, one sportsman says they hope that “thoughtful, respectful and vocal hunters apply.”
The individual didn’t wish to be named, but says that having sat in on numerous WAG meetings in recent years, as wolves close in on state recovery goals it’s more important than ever for hunters to participate more.
Among the discussions likely to occur is planning for the postdelisting period, how wolves may be managed in terms of impacts on big game species and possibly even through hunting.
It will mark a sharp shift in the WAG’s workload, which so far has primarily focused on dealing with wolf-livestock conflicts, a multiyear effort that was led by an outside facilitator who has since departed.
The tug-of-war between livestock producers and predator advocates led to a consensus that stressed nonlethal preventative measures and established a clearer structure for WDFW to lethally remove problem animals.
That protocol has survived two years of outsiders’ objections and this summer a judge twice shot down efforts to halt kill authorizations, though it will still have its day in court.
But it’s also meant that the conversation about wolves in Washington has been “stuck on yesterday’s cattle conflicts,” according to the observer, “with far too little attention given to tomorrow’s wolf management, the needs and values of hunters as wildlife stakeholders, and the importance of the game species we pursue.”
No matter your opinion on wolves — good, bad or indifferent — they’re here to stay, so it behooves hunters to be involved in the process.
“We have to be at the table, and we have to speak up once there.”
WAG has 18 positions for those in the hunting, ranching, rural and environmental communities, and members serve staggered terms. Four current members do represent sportsman interests.
The plan is for WDFW Director Kelly Susewind to plug in new advisors as seats become available, starting with the one open now by next February.
“We are looking for candidates who can work cooperatively with others to develop management recommendations that reflect a diversity of perspectives,” Susewind said in a press release.
The group generally holds four two-day meetings each year at different locations across the state.
In their applications, prospective members are asked to address several items, including their knowledge of the state wolf plan and how they’ve worked collaboratively with those of different viewpoints.
Forms can either be emailed to Donny.firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to WDFW Wolf Policy Lead Donny Martorello, WDFW, PO Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.
Deadline is 5 p.m., Nov. 30.