OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington wildlife officials are calling for candidates to serve two-year terms on a panel that advises the state on wolves.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife appointed nine people in 2013 to represent ranchers, hunters and environmentalists as wolves return to the state. Panel members’ terms expire at the end of the year.
The department’s director, Phil Anderson, may enlarge the panel to 12 members to get a wider range of perspectives, according to WDFW.
“Wolf recovery and management raises challenging issues and concerns, and the group’s advice and counsel has been — and will continue to be — extremely helpful,” Anderson said in a press release.
The department, which is overseeing the reintroduction of wolves, has been lashed by livestock owners and conservation groups. Ranchers contend WDFW has failed to protect livestock from wolves, while environmentalists were angered by the state-approved shooting of a wolf in August to protect a flock of sheep in Stevens County.
“We hear from people and organizations around the country that have strong views on wolf management, but we established this advisory group to represent the perspectives of Washingtonians,” Anderson said. The wolf advisory group has no official authority, and its makeup virtually bars the possibility of consensus. Every member represents a group with a special interest in the issue.
The Sierra Club’s representative, Bob Aegerter of Bellingham, said he probably will re-apply to serve on the panel, but noted the board’s lack of authority. “That’s a frustrating position to be in,” he said.
Currently, Washington’s wolf population, most recently estimated at 52, is concentrated in the northeastern corner of the state.
WDFW will consider recovery complete when at least 15 breeding pairs are fairly evenly distributed throughout Washington.
The department projects recovery could occur as early as 2021.
Agriculture groups represented on the panel include the Washington Farm Bureau, the Washington Cattlemen’s Association and Cattle Producers of Washington.
“Many times I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall. I’m sure the other side feels the same way when I’m talking,” the cattlemen’s association executive vice president, Jack Field, said.
Nevertheless, he said he will apply to remain on the panel.
“As long as there is a wolf advisory group, I want the Washington Cattlemen’s Association’s voice to be heard,” he said.
The new appointees’ terms will run through December 2016.
The group meets at least four times a year. Members are eligible to be reimbursed for travel expenses.
Applications must be submitted in writing, postmarked by 5 p.m. Nov. 14 and include the applicant or nominee’s address, telephone number and email.
People or groups making nominations must submit their names and contact information.
Applicants should include relevant experience and affiliations.
Applicants should indicate why they would be effective, their familiarity with the wolf recovery plan and ability to collaborate with others who have different views.
Address applications to Dave Ware, Game Division Manager at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091; or by email to David.Ware@dfw.wa.gov.
More information about the wolf advisory group is available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wag. The department’s wolf conservation and management website is at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf.