Ranchers express frustration over wolf management

Ranchers express frustration over wolf management

It was standing room only, as more than 200 Stevens County residents gathered Tuesday night to voice their concerns on how the state is managing wolves in Northeast Washington.

A meeting was held in Colville in Stevens County, the area where 10 of Washington’s 15 confirmed wolf packs live, and the area where wolves killed sheep over the summer.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife called the issue of wolf management “volatile.”

The residents of Stevens County, many of them ranchers, told Fish and Wildlife the wolves threaten their livelihood, and Fish and Wildlife isn’t taking their concerns seriously.

The Washington population of wolves has grown exponentially since 2011.

During the public comment, residents expressed their frustration toward the Department of Fish and Wildlife, saying they haven’t been transparent, they’ve wasted tax payer dollars, and that they haven’t followed through with promises to remove the wolves that have been killing livestock.

Ranchers also say, the issue is bigger than that, it’s about protecting their livelihoods.

“Our losses, many of them go unconfirmed, and those losses come out of our bottom line,” explained rancher Tom Wishon, “and even with the record high cattle prices that we’re seeing today, our inputs are at a record high too, so our margins are very thin, so it makes it hard to do business when we have a predator that is unmanageable.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to take the main concerns from the evening and share them with other stakeholders, specifically wolf advocates, most of them on the west side of the State, an area where only a few of the wolf packs are living.

Fish and Wildlife says their ultimate goal is to develop public understanding and promote coexistence with the wolves.