It’s unsurprising at this stage, but the top Washington wildlife official once again said his agency is ready to take over wolf management statewide.
“The Department finds the USFWS proposal to remove gray wolves from the list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and return management authority in the western two-thirds of Washington to the Department appropriate and timely,” writes WDFW Director Kelly Susewind, words not unlike his two predecessors and others there.
* And a Fish and Wildlife Commission position statement on wolves, during the development of which then Chair Miranda Wecker said, “Some wolf enthusiasts want wolves to live out their natural lives. That’s not the position of the department. Let me be crystal clear: Wolves will become a game species. They will be managed, and not for maximum population.”
Federal delisting would allow WDFW to use the same management tools in the Cascades and Western Washington as it does in the state’s eastern third.
“This is the right direction for wolf conservation and management in our state,” Susewind said, pointing to the agency’s recovery plan, legislative funding, stakeholder work and efforts to manage wolves in perpetuity.
WDFW has also begun a status review of the state’s population, which at last minimum count stood at 126 wolves in 27 packs and has surely grown since then as pups hit the ground this spring.
Based on that review, WDFW will make a recommendation to the Fish and Wildlife Commission on whether gray wolves’ continued state ESA listing is warranted or not.