That thump that just hit the Internet?
The 516 pages of WDFW’s final wolf management plan/environmental impact statement.
It’s available here.
It appears that 15 breeding pairs over three years across various parts of the state remains the threshold for removal from statewide protections. A minimum number, it would equate to an estimated 97 to 361 wolves running around Washington.
The new official population estimate Northwest Sportsman got yesterday was that there are 25-30 adults and yearlings in the state — a figure which does not include pups — and five confirmed packs. The plan says there are also possible packs in the Blue Mountains and upper Skagit River area.
Other highlights (or lowlights, depending on your viewpoint):
• The distribution of breeding pairs among recovery regions was changed from the Draft to the Final EIS Preferred Alternative. Pairs that could have occurred anywhere in the state for downlisting to Sensitive Status and delisting were assigned to specific recovery regions. For downlisting to sensitive status, 3 breeding pairs that could have occurred anywhere in the state were assigned to the Eastern Washington and Northern Cascades recovery regions. For delisting, 6 breeding pairs that could have occurred anywhere in the state were assigned among the three recovery regions.
• Lethal take by livestock owners of wolves caught in the act of attacking livestock on 6 private lands they own or lease was changed to allow it to occur at all listed statuses, rather than only after reaching threatened status, with a permit from WDFW and after documented depredation had occurred in the area and measures to resolve the problem had been deemed ineffective.
• Lethal take by private citizens of wolves in the act of attacking pet dogs was previously allowed when wolves reached Sensitive status; in the revised Preferred Alternative, it is not allowed while wolves are listed.
• Management of wolf-ungulate conflicts was changed. In the Draft Preferred Alternative, the WDFW could consider moving, lethal control, or other control techniques for wolves in localized areas after wolves were delisted, if research determined that wolf predation was a limiting factor for an at-risk ungulate population. In the Final Preferred Alternative, the WDFW could consider control of wolves at all listing statuses if it determines that wolf predation is a primary limiting factor for an at-risk ungulate population, and the wolf population exceeds delisting objectives within that recovery region. WDFW would consider the status of wolves statewide as well as within a specific recovery region where ungulate impacts were occurring in decision-making. The definition of an “at risk ungulate population” was revised from the Draft EIS to the Final EIS.
Next up for the plan, Aug. 4’s Fish & Wildlife Commission meeting.