The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) invites the public to submit written comment from Feb. 22 to April 11 on a proposed rule change and a new rule to address wolf-livestock conflict deterrence.
In September 2020, Governor Jay Inslee directed WDFW to initiate rule making with the goal of instituting practices that would reduce the number of livestock killed or injured by wolves as well as the number of wolves lethally removed as a result of depredations of domestic animals.
The proposed rule change, if adopted, would amend the language of Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 220-440-080 to require that, to authorize lethal removal of wolves, the WDFW director (or WDFW staff designee) would need to confirm an owner of domestic animals has proactively implemented appropriate non-lethal conflict deterrence measures.
The proposal, if adopted, would also create a new rule (WAC 220-440-260) that directs WDFW staff, in consultation with willing, affected livestock producers, as well as affected federal, state and tribal agencies, to author conflict mitigation plans that would establish area-specific criteria for the use of non-lethal and lethal measures to mitigate wolf-livestock conflict in areas of chronic conflict.
“If adopted, the proposed change to WAC 220-440-080 would align the code with the agency’s long-standing commitment to non-lethal conflict mitigation strategies,” said Wolf Policy Lead Julia Smith.
“The proposal creating WAC 220-440-260 aims to address areas that have experienced significant levels of livestock depredation and subsequent wolf removals year after year, an especially difficult scenario for all communities concerned about wolf conservation and management. This proposal focuses limited time and resources to areas where the most livestock and wolf loss has occurred in the state.”
In addition, a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) that analyzes the environmental impacts of four alternative rule making options and a Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS) that evaluates the potential costs to businesses in the livestock industry resulting from the proposed rule and rule change were developed as part of the rule making process. During this public comment period, WDFW is looking for input on the draft proposed language for both WACs, as well as feedback on the DSEIS.
To submit comments on this proposal, visit the Wolf-livestock Conflict Deterrence Rule Making public engagement page at: https://publicinput.com/WolfConflictDeterrence102.
Written comments can also be submitted via email to WolfConflictDeterrence102@PublicInput.com, or members of the public can call (855) 925-2801 (enter project code 3861) to record their input.
To review the SEPA materials and share feedback on the DSEIS online, visit: https://publicinput.com/SEPAWolfConflictDeterrence. Written comments can also be submitted via email to SEPAWolfConflictDeterrence@PublicInput.com, or members of the public can call (855) 925-2801 (enter project code 6659) to record their input.
A public hearing is scheduled for April 8 at 8 a.m. The meeting will take place by webinar. The public may participate in the meeting. Registration is required to testify at the public hearing. Registration deadlines and registration forms are available on the Commission Meetings page or you may contact the commission office at (360) 902-2267.
The final SEIS is planned to be issued in May and the Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider the proposal in May of 2022. The rule and/or rule changes that may result from this process are proposed to be effective in January 2023.
Visit the Department’s website for more information on the proposed rule at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulations/development/wolf-livestock-conflict-deterrence and the rule-change process.
More information on wolves in Washington can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf.