The recovery and management of gray wolves in Washington and other western states will be the topic of meetings this week.
Hosted by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the meetings will include a panel of experts discussing the ongoing efforts to recover the state’s gray wolf population, the latest population survey information and wolf management strategies used by other states.
“Wolves are a high-profile species that attract considerable public interest from people who often have opposing views,” Dave Ware, the department’s game manager, said in a news release. “This is a great opportunity for people interested in gray wolves to hear from experts about the recovery of the species throughout the West.”
Scheduled speakers include Mike Jimenez, Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming; Carter Niemeyer, retired wolf specialist with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services; and Donny Martorello, the state agency’s carnivore section manager.
Lorna Smith, executive director of Western Wildlife Outreach, an independent wild carnivore education organization based in the state of Washington, will moderate the meetings.
Each meeting will include a chance for the public to submit questions to the panelists.
After an absence from Washington for more than 70 years, gray wolves have dispersed into the eastern portion of the state and the North Cascades from adjacent populations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and British Columbia.
The state wildlife agency has confirmed that there are eight wolf packs in Washington. There also is evidence of unconfirmed packs near Kettle Falls in northeastern Washington, in the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington and in the North Cascades.
Gray wolves are currently listed as endangered under state law throughout Washington, and under federal law in the western two-thirds of the state.
The agency’s wolf conservation and management plan sets a goal of 15 breeding pairs of wolves distributed among three regions of the state for three years – or 18 pairs in one year – before the state can delist gray wolves as an endangered species.