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Gray wolf issue viewed differently

The Chronicle’s June 12 editorial on the federal proposal to take wolves off the list of endangered species could leave readers less informed than if they hadn’t read the paper.

I will try to avoid taking issue with your opinions, and instead try to clarify some facts. In regard to your editorial’s statements:

“A bill enacted earlier this year only exacerbated the problem by classifying wolves as big game rather than predator.”

In fact, the Legislature did not pass any bill to reclassify wolves to big game. The gray wolf remains only classified as protected under the state endangered species law.

The bill that passed, House Bill 5193, did not include any reclassification provision.

Furthermore, state law has no predator classification and I’m not aware of anyone having even proposed such a thing in Olympia.

“Unfortunately, that verbiage essentially stripped rural residents of the right to defend themselves, their livestock and their livelihoods from wolves.”

The “verbiage” you’re referring to is imaginary. The only relevant change is a bipartisan group of legislators implored the Fish and Wildlife Commission to pass a rule authorizing people to shoot a wolf caught in the act of preying on a pet or livestock.

The commission adopted the rule April 26, as The Chronicle reported accurately. It has always been entirely legal for persons to defend themselves from attack by a wolf or any other animal (or human).

“About two years ago, backroom deals led to a management plan that offered little in the way of protections for rural residents, livestock and pets.”

The state’s gray wolf conservation and management plan was developed through an extremely open process that included a diverse stakeholder group, 23 public meetings and over 65,000 public comments.

The only backroom here is where ever The Chronicle gets this vitriol to inflame readers.

“While we have dealt with day-to-day interactions with the predators and attacks on livestock and pets…”

There actually isn’t a single wolf pack in the Okanogan Valley or highlands. The packs on the Colville Reservation, Methow, and deep in the heart of the North Cascades have mostly minded their own business.

The only day-to-day thing is The Chronicle’s rants about wolves while ignoring issues actually affecting readers such as unemployment and underfunded education.

“As long as wolves remain on the state endangered species list, wolves will likely continue to pose a serious threat…”

Again, there are no wolf packs in the valley, which is both why they don’t pose much of a threat and why they are on the endangered list. When a wolf population is recovered, that’s when they should and will be removed from the endangered list.

Conservation Northwest, the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, Fish and Wildlife, and a number of ranching families are working hard to avoid conflict between wolves and livestock through proven means such as range riders. Conservation Northwest is presently funding three of these within the territories of the Smackout, Teanaway and Wenatchee wolf packs, and its working well.

Mitch Friedman is the executive director of the environmental group Conservation Northwest. Email him at mitch@conservationnw.org.

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