Social media threats cause WDFW to cancel state-wide wolf meetings

Social media threats cause WDFW to cancel state-wide wolf meetings
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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday that they were canceling their in-person public meetings regarding wolves, because of social media threats.

The department had scheduled 14 meetings across the state. The first would have been held in Spokane this Tuesday at the Spokane Community College.

However, due to the nature of the comments on social media, they felt it was best to cancel all meetings.

“We got to a point where we didn’t think we could have actual meetings that were conducive to gathering input. Wolves are a very hot topic in our area. They feel very, very passionate about wolves one way or the other, it seems like,” said Staci Lehman, the communications manager for WDFW’s eastern region.

They canceled all the meetings instead of specific locations because they didn’t want it to feel like one community’s opinion was more valuable than the other.

The meetings were about the wolf population and what to do in the future, as Lehman believes they will be taken off the endangered species list in the coming years.

As the meetings were announced, social media threats starting coming in. Lehman wouldn’t say what they were, but on their Facebook page, there are angry comments.

“In the end, we also feel like we’re responsible for public safety. It was probably best at this point, and staff safety, to cancel the meetings,” she said.

They even spoke to law enforcement agencies, hearing fears that the meetings would get too heated.

“We also want people to feel like they were heard if we do have a meeting and people come, we want everyone to be able to express their opinions,” she said.

The department will hold online seminars.

Those interested in giving public comment can either mail their input or do so online on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.