COLVILLE, Wash.—The Department of Fish and Wildlife discussed concerns over the growing wolf population with hundreds of residents of eastern Washington Tuesday night in Colville.
The department invited members of the public to share their views on wolf management after wolves killed livestock in Stevens and Ferry Counties. More than 200 people crammed into the Colville Ag Trade Center to share their opinions. While a few served as advocates for the wolves, most of the comments came from ranchers and others who are frustrated with how the state is managing the wolves.
"This county is fed-up," said one person. "We're tired of it! We're completely fed up"
Grand Coulee resident Tim Sloughter drove hours out of his way to share his frustrations.
"There is no way in my lifetime or my kid's lifetime that these wolves will be eliminated even if they opened it up wide open by any means to deal with them," Sloughter said.
The current law in the state of Washington protects wolves as an endangered species and suggests that the Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains at least 15 successful breeding pairs. Even if a wolf attacks livestock, the state is required to take several non-lethal measures before euthanizing it. Many people argued that those non-lethal measures are ineffective.
"You're putting collars on them! When you put a collar on them, take them over to Bellingham," one person shouted.
In the midst of all of the frustration, some people stood in support of the state's management plan. Timothy Coleman of the Kettle Range Conservation Group said he supports the current plan.
"I'm very much pro-wolf recovery," Coleman said. "I believe they're an essential species to the ecology of the state."
The representatives from the Department of Fish and Wildlife said all opinions are welcome, but that the wolves will continue to be protected.
"Un-managing them is not an option. It's not acceptable." said WDFW Director Steve Pozzanghera of Region 1.
Some people, including Sloughter were not satisfied with that response.
"It's an act of terrorism. And the federal government forced it down our throats." he said. "I think if we do it legally…I think we have the best medicine for the wolves, and that's lead."
The department said there are no plans to change the state's current strategy, but that it could eventually change which is why leaders asked for the public's opinion.