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Fri., May 13, 2016, 6 a.m.

Wolf Advisory Group finds consensus on lethal control

At least eight wolves from the Diamond Pack of central Pend Oreille County are shown in this aerial photo snapped around Christmas during a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department survey.
 (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)
At least eight wolves from the Diamond Pack of central Pend Oreille County are shown in this aerial photo snapped around Christmas during a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department survey. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)

Updated May 16, 2016, with AP report on protocol.

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- This week I wrote a commentary about the progress that can be made for the benefit of wildlife when people from different camps find common ground on pressing issues.

That magic happened on Wednesday when the Washington Wolf Advisory Group wound up a two-day meeting in Ellensburg.

The group's task was to work out a protocol for lethal control of problem wolves when deemed necessary. This is a huge issue in a state where some people want very fast decisions when wolves are threatening livestock while other people don't want wolves killed except in the most dire situations.

The WAG members are as diverse as the state interests, including animal rights advocates, hunters and livestock growers.

Here's how Dan McKinley, WAG member and regional director of the Mule Deer Foundation reacted at the close of the meeting:

Huge day for the Wolf Advisory Group, Rich. All members agreed upon a Lethal Removal Protocol being passed on to the Director. First time I know of groups like HSUS, Defenders of Wildlife, Mule Deer Foundation, Hunters Heritage Council, livestock producers and others teaming up on such a divisive issue....Big Day!

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials have worked hard to move from gridlock on wolf management to find areas of consensus for moving forward toward reaching wolf recovery goals.

McKinley said the outcome was moving:

The WAG results actually had a couple of the WDFW veterans in tears. It is a pretty unprecedented move.

Athough the full agreement has not yet been compiled and released, the Associated Press posted these details:

The group that advises Washington state on the management of wolves has agreed to a policy on how to lethally control the predators.

The Capital Press reports the policy clarifies that ranchers and others will be expected to remove livestock carcasses and bones and take one other preventative measure, such as using guard dogs. It still says that wolves in a pack won’t be killed unless there are at least four livestock attacks in one year.

The wolf advisory group met several times before reaching consensus Wednesday in Ellensburg. The group’s members represent conservationists, ranchers, hunters and animal-rights groups.

Conservationists and ranchers say the new process will be better because it firms up what ranchers are expected to do to prevent attacks on livestock.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf policy lead Donny Martorello says the agency will soon put the policy in writing and circulate it.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission does not need to approve this action, Martorellow told  The Spokesman-Review.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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