People in the Pacific Northwest love and understand good coffee made just right. You can see their eyes light with pleasure when they sip that mug prepared with the right amount of grounds from fresh beans that have met the optimal amount of hot, steamy water. When it comes to state wolf management plans and their implementations these same basic “right elements in the right proportions” principles apply.
And while I would really, really hesitate to try to identify the “best” cup of coffee in the Pacific Northwest; I do not have similar challenges when it comes to state wolf management plans. In this calculus the Oregon wolf plan negotiated in the crucible of a lawsuit is the functional equivalent of the “best cup of coffee” state wolf plan.
In this construct it is easy to understand why we recently joined with more than a dozen groups that are objecting to the current pathway that Washington State is taking. Talking in coffee terms, officials in Washington seem determined—in spite of strong and repeated input from their Wolf Advisory Group—to take this good cup of coffee model that Oregon has developed and dilute it.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife dilutes it first by lowering the bar by half on the number of livestock depredations required to qualify for control actions. While this is bad enough, the agency also wants to dilute wolf protections again by expanding the time-frame in terms of how long a qualifying depredation continues to be counted in this analysis. What they have essentially done in these two steps is a four-fold weakening of the approach that has proven most effective for wolves and–we would argue–livestock producers.
To understand the implications of these two elements, take your favorite cup of coffee and dilute it four times. My strong assumption is that you will end up with a cup of something that is essentially undrinkable. All we want is a good cup of wolf coffee. If you think about it in that simple context you understand both our goals and also our doggedness.