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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Washington state range riding program reworked in advance of coming wolf season

A range rider in the area of the Teanaway Wolf Pack.  (Laura Owens/via conservationnw.org)
A range rider in the area of the Teanaway Wolf Pack. (Laura Owens/via conservationnw.org)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has reworked its range riding program, partly in response to allegations of fraud from 2018.

“We’ve all learned about range riding and come to an understanding of what the job duties of a range rider are,” WDFW wolf policy leader Donny Martorello said.

“I don’t know that we were prepared for that in the beginning.

“You’ve seen some of the issues in the past … where there has been investigations of a department range rider.”

According to the WDFW, two range riders who were supposed to be protecting cattle in Ferry County in 2018 were more than 100 miles away in Spokane, shopping and spending time at the Davenport Hotel, as revealed in an investigation that has been referred to a Thurston County prosecutor.

As of this month, the prosecutor had not taken up the case.

Beyond those allegations, Martorello said the new description is aimed at refining “job duties and expectations” for a job that didn’t even exist in Washington state seven years ago.

Range riders spend their summers trying to keep wolves from attacking cattle, predominantly throughout Northeast Washington.

It’s physical work that is difficult to quantify or monitor.

The Wolf Advisory Group, 18 members representing the concerns of environmentalists, hunters and livestock ranchers who advise WDFW on wolf management, spent time debating and defining what range riding is over the past year.

That new language is included in an updated version of the wolf-livestock interaction protocol.

Martorello said much of the department’s new job description language mirrors the WAG language.

The Contracted Range Rider Request for Qualification changes include an increase in reimbursement rates, additional improvements to the qualification criteria, a new range rider questionnaire and updates to the description of duties section to reflect those outlined in WDFW’s Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol.

Applicants also may not have a conviction of any violent criminal offense, have to pass a background check, and be legally eligible to possess a firearm and without a felony or domestic violence conviction.

To see the full list of changes and for instructions on how to apply to be a range rider, visit rb.gy/95zd1o.

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