Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that a pair of wolves had been documented living in Skagit County. WDFW supports a Wolf Management and Conservation Plan that envisions eight breeding pairs in the Cascades in addition to seven breeding pairs in other areas of the state.
Speaking to small numbers of ‘breeding pairs’ belies the actual large number of wolves inhabiting our state, which is well over 100 wolves. Wolves present a threat to farmers, livestock and pets; they don’t go hungry when they cannot find game. I disagree with the thought that these animals moving into Skagit County and breeding is good policy. I am concerned a further increase in wolves will exacerbate the existing elk problems as they would seek the safer areas on the agricultural valley floor. These are foreseeable outcomes and they do not benefit residents of Skagit County.
I did have the opportunity to learn more about the statewide wolf recovery plan when WDFW testified on House Bill 2097, which directs the department to develop and implement conflict mitigation guidelines in each wolf recovery region. I supported this legislation in committee because I fear that we may soon see some of the same issues Northeast Washington is facing in our own backyards.With ongoing issues with elk damaging crops and issues of safety on our highways and even at our schools with large herds coming onto the fields, I will continue to monitor this situation by staying in communication with WDFW to see the impact of these animals in our region.
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