In my experience so many conflicts are avoidable simply by checking in and asking simple questions. In our office we do it all the time. Is anyone else too hot? Is my humming of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony bothering you? Can I put popcorn in the microwave? Anytime someone deals with a space or any other resource that is shared or co-owned a little consideration is an order.
Collaborations or co-creations often spring from this approach and are a good thing, too. More heads tend to add value to the product and also help spot those little issues that might turn out later to be Godzilla-like in their repercussions. It is also a matter of courtesy.
That is why the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s position of support for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) gray wolf delisting proposal is so troubling. It was done in the absence of any visible effort to gather input from those people who actually own the wildlife in question—the citizens of Washington, all of them.
And while the agency certainly can and should make informed pronouncements about Washington’s wildlife, they should be more humble and circumspect when commenting on elements of federal rules or regulations that impact wildlife and habitats beyond their jurisdiction and owned by other states and citizens. The agency would be unlikely to think that their successes in managing bears or elk, for instance, would give them license to comment on Alaska’s bear management plans or Colorado’s steps to cull diseased elk. But giving a blanket and unqualified endorsement of the USFWS is essentially the same action.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is basically a good agency and we feel that we have a productive working relationship with them. That said, we do think that they often miss important details like the broader implications and unintended consequences of this and similar actions. To be clear, those unintended consequences include incomplete recovery in western Washington, stalled recolonization of states with great habitat and organized resistance such as Utah, Nevada and Colorado, and diluted opportunities in California. They also, like many wildlife agencies, forget that their public is much broader and more diverse than the hunting, angling and ranching communities. These are important players and stakeholders but are not the only voices when it comes to wildlife. Please join us in asking the agency and the Fish and Wildlife Commission to be more deliberate, judicious and sensitive to the views of all owners and users of Washington’s magnificent wildlife resource. Please take action below.
The following state legislators in Washington are asking questions about the Department's position, and we thank them for the efforts and their leadership on this issue:
State Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island)
State Rep. Kris Lytton (D-Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan Counties)
State Rep. Hans Dunshee (D- Snohomish County)
Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Kitsap County)
By Bob Ferris
I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s and watched Westerns with my dad. We liked the action, wildness and, at times, the messaging contained in the films about cowboys, mountain men, desperados and the first folks in the Americans. Somewhere in the proteinaceous filing cabinets of my brain I am sure that I have a collection of favorite scenes and lines. And one of my favorites is the scene between Clint Eastwood and the late Will Sampson in The Outlaw Josey Wales (below).
I think of this clip because I was just getting briefed on Nick Cady’s trip to Washington to speak before the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf team on behalf of these recovering canids. Our intent in sending Nick to Olympia was two-fold. First, after developing a relatively strong Wolf Plan in Washington, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, under pressure from the livestock industry, has been steadily whittling away at protections for wolves. And clearly the Wedge Pack train wreck still stings and we wanted to make absolutely sure that happenstance was not repeated.
Our second intent was to bring what we have crafted through nearly two years of negotiation in Oregon north so that parties in Washington can benefit from all the hard work and lessons—both good and bad—that we have learned through our efforts in Oregon.
The message delivered by Nick and others in our collation is much like the movie’s in that it proffers a clear choice between a path of unpleasant and painful, mutual destruction or one where we figure out exactly what we need to do to live relatively peacefully together. Our preference is for the latter as our experience tells us that the most creative and effective solutions come from situation with similar dynamics, but we are also fully prepared for the former.