On The Dismissal Of A WDFW Wolf Advisory Group Member
My apologies for all the Washington wolf posts this week, but it’s important to track the issues.
Last week, WDFW’s Kelly Susewind booted Tim Coleman from the agency’s Wolf Advisory Group following Coleman’s participation in one of two recent lawsuits that attempted to undermine state management of wolves in Washington that was guided in part by the WAG.
A King County Superior Court judge dismissed the claims in he and two others’ complaint.
This morning the ag world and farm bureau-friendly Capital Press weighed in on the Coleman matter, writing that Susewind had made the right move in removing him.
“With a lot of hard work and earnest effort on the part of all sides, the WAG has been able to play a valuable role in wolf management. It provided state wildlife managers with guidelines that provide a well-thought-out basis for decisions on whether to remove wolves that repeatedly kill or injure livestock,” an editorial reads.
“However, for the group to work it must seek compromise positions. Suing the state only disrupted the process,” it continues.
The cohesion of the WAG, which helped develop the guiding wolf-livestock and lethal removal protocols, was something that WDFW and the state of Washington sunk $1,625,000 into over four years via Francine Madden and her mediation contract.
One million, six hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.
Maybe in the happy years before Covid-19 hit state coffers burning that much money to try and keep the peace on wolves represented a bone the legislature could easily throw to keep the din down up in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.
Today, that longterm investment is perpetually under attack, primarily by out-of-state interests but also some in Washington like Coleman, who lives in Republic and heads up the Kettle Range Conservation Group.
Predictably, his dismissal from the WAG has opened still another front amongst the myriad that fringe wolf lovers are using to try and pry their way into state management.
In addition to piling pressure on the governor over late June’s Fish and Wildlife Commission denial of their petition to require nonlethal tactics be used to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts, they’re outraged Coleman was let go.
They claim it’s a violation of his free speech, that he was the “sole voice of dissent … in his opposition to Department actions favoring the interests of the livestock industry over wolves,” and further proof wolf conflict management should be codified.
(The commission considered their one-size-fits-all approach too shackling.)
No doubt that WDFW needs guardrails and strong voices with wolves and wolf issues, because there are many valid perspectives, not just those of hunters, not just those of ranchers, but WAG members need to be pragmatists in all this, not hand grenade throwers.
That’s what Coleman tried with his lawsuit, threw a grenade amongst the WAG, except that instead of taking out the people and $1.625 million process he aimed to, it bounced back under his chair and got him instead.
Losing the lawsuit and then losing his seat at the table.
Having written about wolves for 12 years now, I can say they are a huge pain in the ass, but to be more accurate and fair it’s the people surrounding them who truly are, and mostly it’s the hardcore wolfies who are pushing as hard as they can to make this the Evergray State, constantly putting at risk all the time, effort and money that’s gone toward mitigating wolves’ recolonization and lowering its impact on affected residents.
And for what?
That’s not going to work for us, them, or the wolves.