New WDFW Director Kelly Susewind talked budget, wolves, orcas and Chinook, tribal relations and more on TVW ahead of his upcoming six-stop tour across Washington.
The hour-long interview with Inside Olympia host Austin Jenkins is posted here and comes as Susewind nears the end of his third month in the hot seat.
As with previous stories here and elsewhere, it fleshes out his thinking on hot-button fish and wildlife issues, and sets the tone for what his priorities are going forward.
It also included news that the Old Profanity Territory Pack has struck again in northern Ferry County and that Susewind is expecting a recommendation from field staff soon on whether to take out its two remaining wolves or continue with the evaluation period.
Asked by Jenkins if he was concerned that a court could take lethal removal off the table, Susewind defended the agency’s protocols that have been challenged by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, saying he believes WDFW has “a good solid case.”
“We’re ahead of most of the country in wolf management, I think, by trying this … collaborative (approach), by having reasonable minds at the table from both sides talking about, ‘How can we make this work for everybody?” he said.
On helping out starving killer whales by producing more Chinook, Susewind said that while the olden day’s Johnny Appleseed approach to hatchery operations may have damaged wild runs, the pendulum may have swung too far the other way.
“We’ve learned from that, but have we gone too far to the point we’re restricting ourselves? In my opinion, yes,” he said.
While quickly acknowledging his lack of fisheries management experience but that he had staff who were experts, he also noted that “You can’t just turn the orca dial, you’ve got to turn the whole ecosystem dial.”
As for November and December’s open houses with the public, Susewind considers the half-dozen chances to meet with hunters, anglers and other Washington residents an “opening of the door.”
“Tell me what you need, what you’re not getting, and help us get into a position so that we can deliver that to you,” he told Jenkins.
Next year Susewind hopes that lawmakers are more amenable to WDFW’s big budget ask than the previous one that went down in flames.
Three-quarters of the overall $60-plus million proposal would come from the General Fund and the rest from a 15 percent across-the-board license fee increase to address funding shortfalls and boost hunting and fishing opportunities and habitat and other investments.
Those meetings are slated to occur:
Monday, Nov. 5 – CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley
Tuesday, Nov. 6 – Grant County Public Works, 124 Enterprise St. SE, Ephrata
Wednesday, Nov. 7 – Selah Civic Center, 216 1st St., Selah
Tuesday, Nov. 13 – Montesano City Hall, 112 North Main Street, Montesano
Wednesday, Nov. 14 – WDFW Ridgefield Office, 5525 South 11th Street, Ridgefield
Wednesday, Dec. 12 – Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Watershed Science Center, 125 W Sunset Way, Issaquah
All run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.