Wildlife commissioners interview with Washington lawmakers in step toward confirmation
March 10, 2023 Updated Fri., March 10, 2023 at 7:28 p.m.
State lawmakers interviewed three Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife commissioners Thursday.
Commissioner Molly Linville, Tim Ragan and Woody Myers all answered questions under oath before the state Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks committee.
Linville, who is an Eastern Washington representative, started out by praising the diversity represented on the nine-person governor appointed commission, representing geographic areas of the state.
“I think there is a lot of strength in our diversity and I think we’re just experiencing some growing pains,” she said. “I think the diversity of views really captures this state’s diversity of views.”
When asked what WDFW can or should do differently, she urged the agency to continue learning how to work with locals in managing wildlife. She also defended the science produced by agency biologists.
“I know the science that is being brought forward from the department is strong,” she said. “I think people confuse what science actually is. Unless it’s chemistry, it’s not a specific answer.”
Tim Ragan, a Western Washington representative, followed and answered a variety of questions about salmon, fishing and the decision to end the spring bear hunt. He said he opposed the spring bear hunt because he was worried it could unintentionally damage the overall bear population.
“I’m not against hunting,” he said.
He added WDFW must be “confident that we know what we’re doing with population when we hunt them so that we are not putting them at extra risk.”
Woodrow “Woody” Myers Jr. wrapped up the meeting. The retired ungulate biologist answered a number of questions about deer and elk survival, wolves and habitat , explaining in depth the complicated dynamics between predator, prey and habitat.
“Northeast Washington has been a white-tail factory in the past,” he said. “And I think in part, part of that is due to the agriculture that was relatively common in the Colville River Valley. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some changes.”
On Monday, the committee will interview commissioners James Anderson, John Lehmkuhl and Melanie Rowland, with a vote on whether to confirm the commissioners scheduled for Thursday. Only one of the nine commissioners has been confirmed.
“We will work very hard to get you confirmed this year,” committee chair Sen. Kevin Van De Wege told the commissioners Thursday.
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