Ranchers criticize state wolf management in letter
By MATTHEW WEAVER
A northeast Washington cattlemen's group says it is awaiting a reply from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding claims the state is not following its wolf regulations.
The Stevens County Cattlemen's Association claims the department has limited gray wolf-related data and that management has become a "spontaneous affair," with methods deviating from the state's wolf management plan. Those changes include management contracts that livestock producers must sign to receive assistance from the department and the hiring of two conflict management specialists.
The association says they are not listed as options in the plan, calling them "reactionary management strategies."
SCCA president Scott Nielsen said in a press release that the letter, sent through a Colville, Wash., attorney to the department, is intended to improve the relationship between the department and the public.
"If they want to build a relationship with the community in order to better manage their wildlife, they must recognize that trust and follow-through (are) a huge part of that," Nielsen stated. "You can't say one thing and do something else."
The association claims that the gray wolf was listed as an endangered species in Washington state law without biological evidence, and the department denied recent requests by local governments and organizations to delist the wolf based on a lack of biological evidence.
"It is a terrible irony that neither the department nor the (Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission) can produce any evidence for initially listing the gray wolf or continuing to list it as an endangered species, but demand the burden of biological evidence be met by the public in order to delist," the SCCA letter states.
The SCCA sent the letter March 15, requiring a response by March 22 to avoid "further legal action."
WDFW Game Division Manager David Ware said the department is working on a response.