The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has opened a public comment period to gather input on how the department will manage wolves in Washington after the recovery of their population.
Biologists are confident that Washington’s wolf population is on a path to successful recovery. Since 2008, the state’s wolf population has grown an average of 28% per year. WDFW documented a minimum of 126 individuals, 27 packs, and 15 successful breeding pairs during the last annual population survey.
“Long-term sustainability and persistence of Washington’s wolf population will always be a department priority,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “We know that Washington wolves are doing well, and it’s our responsibility to be prepared to help wolf and human populations coexist in the same landscape.”
Although it may be a few years before meeting wolf recovery goals, WDFW is preparing for when wolves are no longer designated as state or federally endangered by developing a post-recovery conservation and management plan. It will guide long-term wolf conservation and management.
As part of using the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, WDFW will include an extensive public input and engagement process to develop the plan. This involves preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will evaluate actions, alternatives, and impacts related to long-term wolf conservation and management. The department will develop the draft EIS based on feedback, and the public can review and comment on the draft once it is complete.
“The department currently uses the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, adopted in 2011, to guide wolf management activities in Washington,” said Julia Smith, WDFW wolf coordinator. “However, the 2011 plan was developed specifically to inform and guide Washington wolf recovery while wolves are considered threatened or endangered. The new plan will focus on how the department will conserve and manage wolves after their recovery.”
Public input and feedback is vital to this effort. The public scoping comment period is open from Aug. 1, 2019 through Nov.1, 2019. You can share your thoughts by taking an online survey at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/post-recovery-planning, or by attending one of the following 14 public scoping open houses in your community:
Sept. 3, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Spokane Community College (SCC), The Lair Student Center, Building #6, Sasquatch and Bigfoot Room 124 & 124C, 1810 Green St., Spokane, WA 99217
Sept. 4, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Agriculture & Trade Center, 215 S. Oak St., Colville, WA 99114
Sept. 5, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Quality Inn and Suites, Half Mahogany Room, 700 Port Drive, Clarkston, WA 99403
Sept. 11, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Chelan Fire Station, 232 E. Wapato Ave, Chelan, WA 98816
Sept. 25, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Franklin PUD auditorium, 1411 W. Clark St, Pasco, WA 99301
Sept. 26, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Selah Civic Center, 216 S. 1st St., Selah, WA 98942
Oct. 7, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd., Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
Oct. 8, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Eagle Room, City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way, Issaquah, WA 98027
Oct. 9, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center, 510 Kelso Drive, Kelso, WA 98626
Oct. 10, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Lyle Community Center, 700 Main Street, Morton, WA 98356
Oct. 15, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Natural Resources Building (Room 172), 1111 Washington SE, Olympia, WA 98504
To be determined
Oct. 29, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Peninsula College, House of Learning (Longhouse), 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, WA 98362
Oct. 30, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St., Montesano, WA 98563
A webinar will also be available for those who are interested. It will be from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17. It can be viewed at https://player.invintus.com/?clientID=2836755451&eventID=2019091001 or from the home page of WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.