08/04/2019: "Wolf Post-Recovery Plan Development"
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has opened a public comment period to gather input on how the department will manage wolves in Washington post-recovery.
Public input and feedback is vital to this effort. The public scoping comment period is open now through Nov.1, 2019.
The public can share their thoughts by taking an online survey at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/post-recovery-planning, or by attending one of public scoping open houses in Mt. Vernon on Oct. 7, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd., Mt. Vernon.
Biologists are confident that Washington's wolf population is on a path to successful recovery. Since 2008, the state's wolf population has grown an average of 28% per year. WDFW documented a minimum of 126 individuals, 27 packs, and 15 successful breeding pairs during the last annual population survey.
"Long-term sustainability and persistence of Washington's wolf population will always be a department priority," said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. "We know that Washington wolves are doing well, and it's our responsibility to be prepared to help wolf and human populations coexist in the same landscape."
Although it may be a few years before meeting wolf recovery goals, WDFW is preparing for when wolves are no longer designated as state or federally endangered by developing a post-recovery conservation and management plan. It will guide long-term wolf conservation and management.
As part of using the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, WDFW will include an extensive public input and engagement process to develop the plan. This involves preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will evaluate actions, alternatives, and impacts related to long-term wolf conservation and management. The department will develop the draft EIS based on feedback, and the public can review and comment on the draft once it is complete.
"The department currently uses the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, adopted in 2011, to guide wolf management activities in Washington," said Julia Smith, WDFW wolf coordinator. "However, the 2011 plan was developed specifically to inform and guide Washington wolf recovery while wolves are considered threatened or endangered. The new plan will focus on how the department will conserve and manage wolves after their recovery."