Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Sunday, October 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 19° Clear
Sports >  Outdoors

Wolves, bears, prescribed burning and more discussed during WDFW Q&A session

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources, according to the agency's webpage. (WDFW / WDFW)
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources, according to the agency's webpage. (WDFW / WDFW)

Wolves, bears, prescribed burning and more were discussed during a virtual Q&A session Monday.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind and regional Director Steve Pozzanghera answered questions from Region 1 residents.

The virtual Q&A was the second digital open house held by Susewind. The hour-long session is part of a larger agency effort to better communicate WDFW’s mission and importance to the public.

The session started with an edgy question about what WDFW is doing to ensure human safety and whether or not the agency prioritizes animals over people.

Susewind pushed back and said, “We do not prioritize animals over humans.”

In fact, in a recent memo to staff, Susewind made it “clear that we prioritize public safety,” and made assurances that he would back up enforcement officers decisions when dealing with problem cats.

Meanwhile, WDFW is reviewing recreational cougar hunting policies a year early in direct response to concerns raised by the public in a January Fish and Wildlife commission meeting in Spokane.

“We heard a lot,” Susewind said in an interview Monday. “And a lot of direction from our commission that, ‘Hey, we need to be looking into this.’ And so that’s what we’re doing following through on that commitment.”

The next question touched on new black bear hunting rules. Black bear hunting will open Aug. 1 throughout the state and hunters may tag up to two bears. Previously, eastern Washington had different season dates and hunters could only keep one bear from eastern Washington.

Wolf management was up next with the questioner asking what WDFW will change about its wolf management and whether WDFW was sharing wolf collar data with ranchers and other groups.

The agency does share information about den sites and wolf movement, Pozzanghera said.

“We’re doing everything we can to minimize the chance that wolves and livestock will be interacting,” he said.

The next questioner asked why WDFW doesn’t have point restrictions for whitetail deer hunters. In 2019 WDFW eliminated antlerless deer hunting in Game Management Units 101 and 121.

“We don’t believe that we have a buck problem from the standpoint of a breeding efficiency,” Pozzanghera said, adding that pregnancy rates are about 90 percent in Eastern Washington. “We believe antler point restrictions would be an unnecessary restriction on recreational opportunity.”

Finally, Susewind and Pozzanghera were asked why WDFW is doing prescribed burns on some of its more than 1 million acres of land – including 800 acres in the Sherman Creek area this spring. The prescribed burning is part of WDFW’s effort to better manage its forestland and conserve Washington’s natural resources, Susewind said.

“I think we have a huge conservation role to play,” he said. “Too large a portion of the state doesn’t recognize us as a conservation agency.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.

New health insurance plans available Nov. 1 through Washington Healthplanfinder

 (Photo courtesy WAHBE)

Fall means the onset of the cold and flu season.