Exploring the Wolf Management Plan
As many of you likely are aware, today the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife formally adopted a Wolf Management Plan to guide wolf recovery in the state for the next decade or more. At first glace, it is hard to determine if this is a conservationist friendly bill or one to the opposite effect catering to the anti-wolf minority.
Luckily, by understanding the background of this plan we can conclude that while this is not the perfect bill in the eyes of any special interest group (including conservationists), it is overall a healthy plan which conservation groups should consider a victory. Let's look at some details:
The plan mandates 15 breeding pairs of wolf before wolf can be delisted from the state's endangered species listing: While that seems like only a few breeding pairs, 15 was the number of breeding pairs recommended by the science community as a whole. In addition, those breeding pairs must be spread throughout the state according to the plan.
The plan allows for lethal measures to be taken against harmful wolves: Obviously, nobody would like to see a wolf killed for any reason, but this condition exists in narly every other state's wolf plans, and they, Idaho for example, have seen a resurgence of wolves in the state.
The plan provides for financial compensation for ranchers who suffer losses from wolf kill: This may seem costly, but the numbers of confirmed wolf predations on cattle and other commercial animals has always been low and should continue to be. In addition, the compensation appeases some of the demands made by the anti-wolf crowd, who, although a minority, deserve to be heard and represented in the plan.
Overall we, and the majority of conservation groups, are pleased with the plan. More breeding pairs would be desirable, but considering the pressure the Department of Fish and Wildlife was under, they did a good job retaining a scientifically sound recovery plan.