Wolves, Cougars, Now Bears
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
Companion bills HB 2107 and SB 5960 would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to update the 2011 wolf conservation and management plan by June 30, 2017 in order to better address the wolf recovery rate and the uneven distribution of wolves that has occurred in Northeast Washington. Fish and Wildlife strongly supports the bill, saying they feel it is a better vehicle to address the concerns about wolves in Northeast Washington.
SB 5940 would allow the use of dogs to hunt cougars within Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Chelan, and Okanogan counties. Since 2004 Legislature has frequently permitted pilot projects for the use of cougar hunting dogs in these counties, with the last such project ending in 2011. Ranchers in these areas have told legislators that using dogs to control livestock killing cougars worked well, and that since the pilot project ended cougars have become more prevalent and bold around livestock and humans. ?
And as if ranchers didn’t already have enough to contend with when it comes to large predators now state and federal agencies are looking at restoring grizzly bears in the North Cascades. Okanogan County Commissioner Jim DeTro says most county residents oppose the idea.
DETRO: They’re going to meet a lot of resistance. Every organization that I know is coming out against them - backcountry horsemen, the cattlemen, Farm Bureau. There’s a law in the State of Washington thanks to Senator Morton that grizzlies can’t be reintroduced in the state so they’re trying to do an end run with federal dollars.
Public comment on the subject is open through March 26 through the National Park Service website.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.