Self-described WDFW reformists now don’t want you to know what they’re up to this week.
After building a website for a two-day “Washington Fish & Wildlife Management Reform Convention” today and tomorrow on Vashon Island – outlining what it was about, the agenda, accommodations, meal plans, social activities and more – organizers from the Washington Wildlife Coalition abruptly deleted all the information overnight.
The site started morphing yesterday as I began to poke around it, with first the agenda disappearing.
And since posting my story about the convention on Tuesday afternoon, all that now remains is a brief message to email the organizers and a picture of a buck in velvet looking over its shoulder.
Fortunately, someone in our community was fast enough to save a copy of the site and forward a PDF of it to me to aid my memory.
The convention is being put on by some of the most anti-WDFW and -Fish and Wildlife Commission organizations in the state and country.
The coalition includes Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, Center For Biological Diversity, Humane Society of the United States, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Washington Wildlife First, etc.
Oh, they’ll tell you they’re not specifically anti-fishing or anti-hunting, but their actions can speak otherwise. They are no friend of sportsmen, WDFW or the commission.
I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve done over the years about WFC’s hatchery lawsuits driving down fish production and releases, CBD and others stomping off to the Governor because they didn’t get their way in the court system or with the commission on a predator issue, or this reform effort that became much more apparent in early 2021.
The professed aim of this week’s event is to “bring together fish and wildlife advocates from around the state to discuss a path toward transforming the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife into an agency that prioritizes conservation over consumption, emphasizes the intrinsic value of individual animals and healthy ecosystems, and represents the values of all the people of the state.”
The emphasis is mine, and you can draw your own conclusions.
I’d argue conservation already always trumps consumption simply so that we can go fishing and hunting next season and the one after that and so on, but in a Facebook post, Duane Inglin of Fish Hunt Northwest stated, “What they really mean to say is preservation over consumption…. No killing or harvesting anything, simply watching wild animals in their habitat.”
Day one of the convention – this afternoon and evening – is focused on “The Problem,” with an overview of “Why is WDFW in need of reform,” “A view from the inside” and “View from the legislature Q&A.”
Day two – tomorrow – is about “The Solution” and will feature brainstorming breakout sessions on “Diversifying the Department, the Commission and Advocacy Groups,” “Engaging the broader public in Fish and Wildlife,” “Changing the Department from within,” “Finding the right commissioners,” and more, before holding a wrapup palaver centered around “Developing a platform for change.”
Ultimately, it’s all another step toward uncoupling WDFW and the commission from their strongest traditional supporters – you.
And what’s more, holding this convention implies a bolder, much more well-organized effort that Washington hunters, anglers and true conservation organizations should be aware of.
Certainly securing the facility – Camp Fire’s Camp Sealth on the shores of Colvos Passage – for an overnighter must’ve cost a pretty penny.
When my wife and I send our oldest to that Vashon Island camp for a week in summer, it sets us back in the neighborhood of $700. Before the aforementioned website was taken down, it stated that the event was free, with a suggested donation of $50. Who knows how many organizations have sent staffers to the convention; Sound Action posted a pic from there this afternoon.
Who paid for it all?
The reason I worry about this and am bringing it up two days in a row is this.
With the terms of three current commissioners – including two certifiably pro-fishing and -hunting ones – up at the end of this year and my Vegas odds of them being reappointed or replaced with similar folks pretty damn slim, things are about to get serious.
I turned in my tinfoil hat years ago but objectively it appears to me that with the pieces now in place in the Governor’s Office a major takeover of state fish and wildlife management and policies could be in the offing, so I’ll be blunt:
WDFW and the commission may have driven you absolutely batsh*t with some of their moves over the years and decades, but those ain’t nothing compared to what could be coming if this “reform” effort succeeds.