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Landers: Pro-wolf extremists not helping cause

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By Rich Landers
Spokesman Review

Pro-wolf groups had a wider range of concerns, but most of them called for the state to hold ranchers more accountable for preventing wolf attacks by using range riders, fencing or other non-lethal measures.

Having two totally opposing contingents works beautifully for football games.

With Cougar fans on one side of the field and Husky fans on the other side, a rivalry packs the stadium and creates a raucous atmosphere that complements the game.

In the practice of wildlife management, such total partisanship is counterproductive.

It’s not surprising that two wildly opposing camps rallied for their respective viewpoints on wolves Friday in Olympia.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission moved its regularly scheduled meeting to a larger room on Friday as emails and chat room threads drummed up a crowd to hear a presentation on the state’s wolf management efforts.

Emotions were high after the summer season of at least 17 wolf attacks on cattle in northern Stevens County, prompting the state to eliminate the Wedge Pack.

After the presentation by Fish and Wildlife Department officials, the commission listened to 41 three-minute testimonies from the audience.

The contingent from northeastern Washington focused on a call for removing wolves from state endangered species protections in their region, where most of the wolf packs are concentrated. Livestock producers in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties don’t want to take the brunt of wolf recovery for years before wolves meet the official statewide threshold for recovery.

State Sen. Bob Morton questioned whether wolves are really endangered, noting the Wedge Pack was attacking cattle in Washington, where wolves are protected, while just a few miles north in British Columbia, a hunter can shoot up to three wolves a year.

Pro-wolf groups had a wider range of concerns, but most of them called for the state to hold ranchers more accountable for preventing wolf attacks by using range riders, fencing or other non-lethal measures.

Opposition to grazing on public land was a fairly common theme.

The faction that wants wolves wiped off the state’s map kept quiet at the meeting.

The opposite extreme tried to make their case that wolves should get a better reception in Washington than they have in Idaho or Montana, where many hundreds of wolves have been killed by managers or hunters as the wolf packs reclaimed their native territory since the mid-1990s.

Pro-wolf extremists refer to lethal wolf management as a slaughter.

Meantime, another slaughter of sorts is going on, leading me to at least one clear conclusion.

If you really love wolves and you have money to spare, don’t feed it to the shrill voices of pro-wolf extremist groups.

Give it to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which has been working for decades to protect and improve elk habitat.

The amount of game in the mountains is the bottom line for wolves and the fans who cheer and jeer them.

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