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WA wolf management plan likely to be approved

A gray wolf (Associated Press)
A gray wolf (Associated Press)

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- Despite considerable controversy over the proposed Washington Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, it's likely to be approved this weekend by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Read my previous blog post for links and details.

The major point of contention is the number of breeding packs that will be allowed before the state would be allowed to control the number of wolves through hunting or some other means.  Hunters and livestock groups, looking at the experience of Montana and Idaho, would like to keep the number of breeding packs low -- around eight --  considering the amount of game and habitat available.

However, scientists commenting on the plan have sided with advocates of a higher number of breeding packs -- around 15 -- for genetic diversity and sustainability of the wolves.

I'll guarantee this much:  Having too many wolves won't be good for anyone, ESPECIALLY the wolves themselves. 

Lawsuits are likely down the road no matter which way the Fish and Wildlife Commission votes on Saturday. So, the panel's best course in order to make their best case in court is to side with the scientists.

Meantime, sportsmen are going to have to find a way to fund wildlife science to document the changes in big-game herds as wolves expand in order to take advantage of the plan's caveats for preventing declines in deer and elk numbers.  Without that science, grumbling will be moot.

Need another perspective:  Here's a Seattle Times op-ed column, Washington's Wolf Management Plan only a starting point.

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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