Fish and Wildlife Commission to talk wolf population

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will talk about the state’s wolf population when it meets this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11.

The commission will meet at 8 a.m. both days in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 111 Washington St. S.E.

Among the agenda items is an overview of the science of managing the state’s wolf population, which has grown rapidly since 2008.

While state policies support wolf recovery, they also include guidelines for using lethal measures against wolves to reduce conflicts with people, livestock and other wildlife. Wildlife managers will discuss scientific studies that evaluate lethal removal techniques and protocols.

Lethal removal was used last summer when the Profanity Peak Pack in Ferry County killed eight cattle and probably killed five more. A half-dozen wolves - half the pack - were killed under the state’s lethal take protocol set up by the Wolf Advisory Group, which is made up of fish and wildlife officials, cattlemen and conservation groups.

There are 19 resident packs in Washington, with most concentrated in Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

The gray wolf is a native species that was nearly extirpated (made extinct) early in the 20th century, but is returning to Washington on its own, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. A state wolf recovery plan is in place.

The gray wolf is considered endangered by the federal government west of Highway 97 and threatened east of the highway. The wolf is listed as endangered statewide under state law.

Commission members also will hear about Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay salmon fisheries, and consider a land transfer in Chelan County.

The property consists of 14 acres along the Wenatchee River and would be donated to the Department of Fish and Wilflife by a non-profit organization. Acquiring this property would improve public access to the river for anglers, bird watchers, hikers and other recreationalists, department officials said. An agenda for the meeting is available here.


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