[Consider the source]:
WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
If one follows the wolf issue long enough, occasionally a nugget of common sense appears.
Such is the case with a recent suggestion the folks at the Washington State Department of Fish and wildlife offered. Speaking during a conference call with the state Wolf Advisory Group, WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello offered this idea: that dead livestock be considered “qualifying” victims of wolves if the time, circumstance and location of their deaths parallel other confirmed depredations.
In other words, if a carcass is found near those of other wolf victims but scavengers have destroyed the evidence directly linking the attack to wolves, state wildlife managers could label it a “qualifying” attack.
Previously, such cases were considered “probable” attacks and were not counted against a wolfpack. Under the Washington wolf plan, managers can kill only wolves that are responsible for four confirmed depredations within a year.
While this may seem to be a bureaucratic splitting of hairs, it’s critically important for managing wolves. Under the new idea, if wolves are found to be responsible for four depredations, including any that are “qualifying,” managers could take steps to get rid of the wolves.
A study found wolfpacks that are thinned soon after attacking cattle or sheep get the message that attacking livestock is unacceptable. By including qualifying attacks, managers could act quicker to thin the ranks of wolves instead of waiting weeks or months for another confirmed depredation.
If managers thin a wolfpack after a long period of time, the wolves have no idea whether it is linked to a depredation, according to the study.
The idea is to manage wolves in a way that is both effective and assures ranchers and others that each step is effective.
That in itself is good reason for the department to adopt such a common sense rule.
It’s also something wolf managers in other states would do well to consider.
The state Wolf Advisory Group will discuss the idea during a March 29-30 meeting in Olympia. We urge the group to take a close look at it, as common sense can be a rare commodity when dealing with wolves.