Washington State looks at wolf management
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
October 20, 2009
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife has issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) titled: "Wolf Conservation and Management Plan for Washington".
Gray wolves were classified as endangered in Washington at the federal level in 1973 and at the state level in 1980. They were delisted under federal law in 2009 in the eastern third of Washington, and remain federally listed in the western two-thirds of the state; they continue to be state listed throughout Washington. Expansion of a currently small breeding population of wolves in Washington is expected as a result of increased dispersal of wolves from recovering populations in Idaho and Montana, and dispersers from British Columbia.
In response to this, and in anticipation of the eventual return of all wolf management to the state, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife initiated development of a state wolf conservation and management plan. A determination of significance and request for comments on scope of an environmental impact statement (EIS) was issued August 1, 2007. WDFW appointed an advisory Wolf Working Group comprised of 17 citizens to provide recommendations on the plan to WDFW. The draft plan establishes conservation/recovery objectives for downlisting and delisting the species, and identifies strategies to address conflicts and achieve recovery. This draft plan and DEIS incorporate recommendations and suggestions from public scoping comments, peer review comments, WDFW reviews and the Wolf Working Group recommendations.