The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking comments on a proposed rule change to address wolf-livestock conflicts. In September 2020, Governor Jay Inslee directed WDFW to initiate rule making, with the goal of reducing the number of livestock killed or injured by wolves. Inslee also wanted that rule to lower the number of wolves lethally removed as a result of depredations of domestic animals.
The proposed rule change, if adopted, would amend the language of Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 220-440-080 to require that, to authorize lethal removal of wolves, the WDFW director would need to confirm an owner of domestic animals has proactively implemented appropriate non-lethal conflict deterrence measures.
If adopted, the proposal would also create a new rule directing WDFW staff, in consultation with willing, affected livestock producers, as well as affected federal, state, and tribal agencies, to author conflict mitigation plans that would establish area-specific criteria for the use of non-lethal and lethal measures to mitigate wolf-livestock conflict in areas of chronic conflict.
“If adopted, the proposed change to WAC 220-440-080 would align the code with the agency’s long-standing commitment to non-lethal conflict mitigation strategies,” said Wolf Policy Lead Julia Smith.
“The proposal creating WAC 220-440-260 aims to address areas that have experienced significant levels of livestock depredation and subsequent wolf removals year after year, an especially difficult scenario for all communities concerned about wolf conservation and management. This proposal focuses limited time and resources to areas where the most livestock and wolf loss has occurred in the state.”
In addition, a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) that analyzes the environmental impacts of four alternative rule making options and a Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS) that evaluates the potential costs to businesses in the livestock industry resulting from the proposed rule and rule change were developed as part of the rule making process.
During this public comment period, WDFW is looking for input on the draft proposed language for both WACs, as well as feedback on the DSEIS.
Comments will be accepted through April 11th.
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