Washington wolf managers could move faster to head off depredations, saving more cattle, sheep and other stock as well as wolves, under new policies recommended by an advisory group.
Instead of waiting for four confirmed depredations before taking lethal action, WDFW could move if three occur in a 30-day rolling window, including one probable, if the agency adopts the policy.
“When conflict happens, we could act earlier to reduce the number of deaths to wolves and livestock,” says Donny Martorello.
At least one of the three would still need to be a confirmed kill, while the other could be an injury.
The current protocol requires four confirmed depredations in a calendar year, along with prevention measures.
The new policy came out of the Wolf Advisory Group, made up of livestock producers, hunters, wolf advocates and others. It does require ranchers to be meeting expectations to use at least two deterrence measures tailored to their operation.
Indeed, the overarching goal in Washington remains to recover wolves while working with cattlemen and shepherds to prevent conflicts in the first place.
Martorello says it’s about “doing our best to influence wolf behavior before conflict.”
For packs that may get in trouble and are hazed away before meeting the standards for “acute” conflict but then attack stock months later, WAG also recommended a “chronic” category with a 10-month rolling window and threshold of four depredations, one of which can be a probable, along with proactive prevention measures, to trigger the possibility of lethal removals.
Martorello said there had been “a lot of energy and synergy” between the many stakeholders in crafting the new guidelines, giving everyone involved a “sense of ownership.”
He says that wide involvement is important to the agency, and that he’s been pleased to work with everyone.
It all may give sportsmen cause to roll their eyes, but it appears to be working. Lowering thresholds for removals demonstrates a trust throughout Washington’s wolf world. While you and I would likely consider a probable depredation in the middle of a string of confirmed attacks to be a confirmed, it’s good to see wolf advocates appear to agree. The more people on board, the lower the tensions around an animal that generates a lot of angst.
WDFW also plans to change how it communicates its wolf activities to the public. Mostly, the agency puts out news when conflicts are ramping up, giving the public a head’s up about what’s going on, but Martorello says they’d like to put out monthly reports on the nonlethal things they’re doing.
And when situations are building to a head, he’d like to provide more of a narrative about the events than a few words in a field in a PDF.
For more details, see the Capital Press story.