The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently testified (go to 3:15:20 mark) before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, calling on the group to include hunting and fishing within its new definition of conservation within its draft “Conservation Policy,” a guide it will use in its decision-making process.
“We at the Elk Foundation find this draft to be a radical departure from traditional and proven wildlife conservation. The proposed new policy has entirely redefined conservation in a way to make it unrecognizable when compared to its former self,” said Alex Baier, RMEF regional director of western Washington.
The language of the proposed policy aims to steer wildlife management toward a preservation approach.
“What is conspicuously missing from your newly invented definition which was prominent in previous iterations? Words like management…restoration, science-based, sustainable use, ecological…have all been extirpated,” added Bauer.
The public comment period closed on June 30.
RMEF also expressed support for a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife proposal before the commission to change the state-level status of wolves in Washington from endangered to sensitive. Doing so would give WDFW more flexibility to manage the species statewide. WDFW scientists have closely monitored the state’s growing wolf population and RMEF encourages the commission to base the listing status decision on science, and not on political pressure.
The commission made several recent management decisions to overrule the scientifically based recommendation of its professional wildlife managers in favor of political priorities of environmental activists, including the elimination of spring bear hunting. Despite WDFW population data confirming that regulated spring bearing hunting was sustainable, the commission closed this popular opportunity for Washington hunters. RMEF is concerned that the commission will also make a political decision on wolves.
Wolf advocates have generally opposed efforts to down-list the protection status of wolves in Washington despite the species’ population gains. However, the state’s current “endangered” status restricts the taking of wolves for most purposes, including capturing and transferring the animals to Colorado for that state’s relocation efforts.
The draft status review for the gray wolf is available for review at WDFW’s publications webpage. The public is invited to comment by submitting written comments at publicinput.com/psr-gray-wolf, emailing comments to psr-gray-wolf@PublicInput.com or by leaving a comment via voicemail message by calling 855-925-2801 and entering project code 2573. WDFW will accept comments until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2023.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)