WCA and HHC file state petition for wolf delisting
The Washington Cattlemen’s Association (WCA) and Hunters Heritage Council (HHC) filed a state petition for the delisting of the federally delisted gray wolf in eastern Washington. Dave Duncan, WCA, Wildlife/ Rancher/Sportsman/Endangered Species Act (ESA) Committee chairman said, “The present ESA-driven recovery plan is unacceptable to affected stakeholders.” The current plan has no finish line and will lead to endless litigation, Duncan said.
“The WCA and HHC are focused on providing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) with a way out, but that must include a clearly defined management plan to deal with problem wolves while maintaining hunter harvest and a sustainable ungulate prey base,” said Jack Field, WCA executive vice president.
Both WCA and HHC believe that WDFW should classify the gray wolf as a big game species, providing the wolf with adequate protections like other game species.
Management and control of problem wolves is essential to the overall success of wolf recovery in Washington state as it has been and continues to be in the Northern Rocky Mountain Recovery Region.
“We must ensure that the final plan adopted by the WDFW Commission is one that is rooted in sound and effective management so we can avoid having a situation similar to what is occurring in Oregon right now,” said Field.
“Both of our organizations support wolf recovery, but efforts are required to insure that wolf populations don’t become so large that the animals become a menace and there is a public backlash against their presence as there is with cougars in some areas of the state. Control efforts should include ways of engendering a desire for separation from the public and their animals. Hunting is one of the best ways to accomplish this. This delisting petition accomplishes these goals,” said Mark Pidgeon, president of HHC.
The petition to delist the gray wolf in eastern Washington would allow for WD- FW to manage and protect the gray wolf as a big game species by incorporating the gray wolf into the WDFW Draft Predator/Prey Guidelines and by addressing elk, deer and moose herd areas with population objectives for predators and ungulates while sustaining acceptable hunter harvest in the area that is east of Highway 395. — WLJ