Final WA Wolf Plan To Be Posted 7-28

WDFW will post its recommended wolf management plan/final environmental impact statement on its Web site tomorrow, Thursday, July 28, one week ahead of the hefty bundle of documents going to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for the first time.

The citizen panel will be briefed on the EIS and 298-page plan on Aug. 4 starting at 10 a.m. in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., in Olympia.

Public comment will be taken that day, as well as at three upcoming meetings tentatively scheduled for Aug. 29 in Ellensburg, and Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 in Oly.

(WDFW’s Facebook page is also attracting quite a few comments following a posting about the Smackout Pack near Ione.)

The commission is scheduled to vote on a final-final plan at its early December meeting.

Agency staffers and members of its Wolf Working Group, which includes hunters, ranchers, wolf advocates and others, have been working on the plan since 2007 as wolf sightings have ramped up significantly. There are now five confirmed packs in four of Washington’s 39 counties, mostly near the Idaho and B.C. borders but also one in the middle of the state not far from I-90 and Highway 97.

The best current population estimate is 25 to 30 adult and yearling wolves in the state, a figure which includes known packs and a handful of dispersers, according to Gary Wiles, a WDFW wolf biologist, who has been working on nothing else but Canis lupus for nearly two straight years.

He says there’s no current assessment of how many pups have been born this year.

Under the draft wolf plan, the species would be removed from state protections when 15 breeding pairs occur for three straight years in certain numbers over large parts of Washington. Other elements of the document address conflicts with livestock and game animals.

Meanwhile, Montana and Idaho are solidifying fall hunt plans and Federal Judge Donald Molloy heard arguments yesterday on the constitutionality of this spring’s Congressional delisting from ESA protections earlier this spring.

Stay tuned.

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