The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Wednesday it will extend the post-recovery public comment period by two weeks. WDFW said this is allows Washingtonians to voice their thoughts how the gray wolf should be managed once they are no longer state listed.
The Department is using a multi-year State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process to develop a post-recovery wolf management and conservation plan. The public can now provide input through 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15. After that, the next opportunity will be when WDFW drafts an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in late 2020 that evaluates actions, alternatives, and impacts related to long-term wolf conservation and management.
“The current plan the department uses to guide wolf conservation and management was started in 2007 and developed over five years specifically to inform wolf recovery. Because wolves are moving toward recovery in Washington, it is time to develop a new plan,” said Julia Smith, WDFW wolf coordinator. “This is just the start of the process, so if you don’t get your input to us by Nov. 15, there will be more opportunities in 2020.”
Since 2008, the state’s wolf population has grown an average of 28% per year.
With a minimum of 126 individuals, 27 packs, and 15 successful breeding pairs during the last annual population survey, biologists are confident that Washington’s wolf population is on a path to successful recovery.
“Although it may be a few years before meeting wolf recovery goals, we want to proactively start the conversation about how we should conserve and manage wolves in Washington for the long-term in our state, post-recovery,” said Smith.
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