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Washington sets new gray wolf conflict protocols, requires deterrents

Gray wolf (Dawn Villella / AP)
Gray wolf (Dawn Villella / AP)

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- Washington has released a revised "Protocol for Wolf-Livestock Interactions" that requires livestock producers to try at least two proactive deterrence measures appropriate to their operation before the state would consider using lethal control in cases of wolf attacks on cattle, sheep and other stock.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and its Wolf Advisory Group worked on the guidelines for reducing conflicts between wolves and livestock after a lot of finger pointing occurred last year on who was responsible for wolf attacks leading to an order to try to eliminate a wolf pack in Ferry County.

"The protocol prescribes proactive measures livestock producers can take to reduce the probability of wolf-livestock conflicts, and establishes a framework for WDFW's response when conflicts between wolves and livestock do occur," the agency said in a release posted late Thursday. "It also serves to increase the transparency and accountability of the Department's activities and management actions related to wolves."

"This updated protocol is the product of months of coordination between biologists, conservationists, livestock producers, hunters, and other wildlife stakeholders on and off the Wolf Advisory Group and WDFW,” said Paula Swedeen, a WAG representative and head of carnivore policy for Conservation Northwest. “We strongly believe that these policies reflect a balanced approach to wolf conservation and management that supports long-term wolf recovery in our state while also meeting the needs of local communities and small businesses operating in wolf country.”

WAG members have learned that the number of producers who have signed up for Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements or who are being covered by department-contracted range riders has increased from 20 in 2013 to 90 in 2017, Swedeen said.

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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