A series of meetings across Washington about the management of wolves has been canceled, including in Pasco, over concerns the sessions could get out of hand.
“We’ve received some information that indicates to us that the meetings could be disrupted, possibly creating an unsafe meeting environment for the public participating,” said Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
State officials have seen “incredible intensity around wolf issues this summer on both sides of the issue,” he said. “For outreach to be meaningful, our meetings have to be productive.”
Steve Pozzanghera, the agency’s eastern region director, told The Spokesman-Review that Facebook posts had threatened violence, including threats focused around agency plans to kill wolves that had attacked cattle.
The threats came from both wolf-partisans and wolf haters, he said.
In response, the state of Washington has canceled the open houses scheduled in Pasco, Olympia and 12 other cities.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is preparing an environmental study to help develop a management plan for when wolves are no longer designated state or federally endangered.
Biologists are confident that the state’s wolf population is on a path to recovery, the agency said.
As part of the study, the state is expected to look at whether some of the state’s growing wolf population should be relocated to areas where there are none, such as the Cascade Mountains to the west of the Tri-Cities.
Instead of in-person meetings around the state, the state agency will have three online webinars with dates to be announced.
Written comments also can be mailed to WDFW — Wolf Post-Recovery Plan Scoping, P.O. box 43200, Olympia WA 98504-3200.
In-person meetings will be scheduled once a draft plan is released, Susewind said.