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Plan your flight, fly your plan

Posted by mmillay at Jan 31, 2013 12:00 AM |

Wolves are back in the lime light in Olympia where four wolf-related bills were brought before the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The message was clear: Don’t mess with the state’s Wolf Management and Conservation Plan, unanimously adopted in 2011.

Plan your flight, fly your plan

Four wolf-related bills are putting wolf management in the lime light.

Four wolf-related bills were brought before the Senate Natural Resources Committee in Olympia on Monday and the message was clear: Don’t mess with the state’s Wolf Management and Conservation Plan, unanimously adopted in 2011.

Those testifying at the hearing included Fred Koontz from the Woodland Park Zoological Society, Diane Gallegos from Wolfhaven, Conservation Northwest’s executive director Mitch Friedman, and others. They asserted that the plan is scientifically based and balanced. In response to all four proposed bills, they stressed that the plan was written with landowners, ranchers, wildlife experts, and conservationists to be the best path for full wolf recovery in Washington.

Supporter Bob McCoy asked the Senate to follow the plan as it was intended, as it is scientifically based and includes the minimum for recovery. As a pilot he said to always, “plan your flight, fly your plan.”

Mitch said, “Wolves are neither angels nor devils, and will respond favorably to better livestock management.” (Read his full testimony)

Ranchers and landowners expressed concern for their livelihoods. Many said they were hesitant about the bills, worried the level of funding for compensation of livestock lost to wolf predation wouldn’t be enough. Commissioner Brad Miller of Ferry County stated that hunting and ranching were a large part of the county’s economy, and fellow commissioner Mike Manus of Pend-Oreille agreed.

But between the differing opinions, a middle ground emerged.

Bills SB5079 and SB5193 focused on funding for compensation of livestock damages coming from a general fund and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife respectively. Sen. Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge Island said that pulling from a general fund “seemed fair, as all of Washington state needs to share the responsibility.”

WA Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Dave Ware stated that more than a dozen ranchers and landowners have signed agreements with the department to explore non-lethal methods to avoid wolf-livestock conflicts.

During his testimony, cattleman Tyler Cox showed his favor of procuring compensation for livestock losses, and he thanked the Department, as he was one of 14 ranchers who had signed such an agreement.

Outside, rancher Jess Kayser told a King5 reporter, "We know that we aren't going to win by fighting. We're doing our best to get along, to be together on this."

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