Wolf management continues to be a controversial subject across the state. Senate House Bill 2365 which would have addressed wolf management issues and was largely supported by the ranching and farming community did not make it through the Legislature this year. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s winter census of wolves confirmed five packs and three breeding pairs in the state, but information gathered since that census was released indicates possibly as many as five additional packs spend part of the year within the state. Currently, the WDFW has $80 thousand available to help compensate ranchers who lose livestock to wolf predation. WDFW has met with producers in northeast Washington where there are potentially six to eight packs in the area. Ranchers there are very concerned about the impact wolves will have on their livestock grazing. Cattle rancher and WCA Executive Vice President Jack Field talks about wolf management challenges for northeast Washington.
FIELD: The interesting dynamic that we have in the northeast corner of the state is that that is federally delisted so Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is the lead entity on management and control issues there. Couple that with short budget and we’re crossing our fingers that we’re not setting ourselves up for a very difficult and bloody summer. I think anybody that runs livestock and certainly the folks that are living in areas where there are wolves are well aware that it’s not an issue of “if it’s going to happen”, it’s the issue of when it happens.
Over the next two months the WDFW will be seeking WCA’s assistance on completing a brochure on avoiding conflicts and reporting suspected depredations, reviewing procedure for lethal action, and program development on assisting livestock producers with funding conflict avoidance measures.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.