Washington Legislators and Community Leaders Urge Science-Based Wolf Conservation and Management Plan

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   January 6, 2010
Contact:   David G. Graves, NPCA: (206) 903-1444, ext. 25 or dgraves@npca.org
Jasmine Minbashian, Conservation Northwest: (360) 319-3111 or jminbashian@conservationnw.org


Washington Legislators and Community Leaders Urge Science-Based Wolf Conservation and Management Plan

Washington state legislature asks Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to use science-based wolf population numbers as it finalizes the state's plan

Olympia, WA – Members of the Washington State Legislature and local Washington community leaders today urged the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to restore a healthy and vibrant wolf population to Washington State. In a letter, leaders suggested that the WDFW use science to set its base number of wolves needed to achieve recovery and provide for the distribution of wolves throughout the state, including the Olympic Peninsula and Mount St. Helens, when finalizing the state’s Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The leaders also expressed support for local community assistance to adapt to the presence of wolves during the early stages of the recovery program, including the compensation program for livestock losses in the current version of the plan.

“Restoring critical predator-prey relationships will greatly enhance the state’s ecosystem and increase tourism dollars for local economies,” said Doug Walker, Founder and Former CEO of WRQ, who signed the letter.

Research indicates that healthy wolf populations can benefit local communities. The University of Montana recently estimated that Yellowstone National Park wolves generate $35 million in economic benefits every year for local communities. This money comes from tourist spending directly related to wolves, including wolf tours and related services, such as lodging and meals. The legislators and community leaders feel it is possible that Washington may be able to experience similar results.

Scientists also believe the return of the gray wolf to the peninsula will lead to cleaner water and healthier ungulate populations. In Olympic National Park, stream and river habitat has been damaged from elk overgrazing. This damage is limited in other parks, such as Yellowstone, where wolves are present to control and manage the elk population.

"We are pleased that our elected officials and community leaders support science-based wolf population numbers in the state’s management plan,” said David G. Graves, Northwest field representative for the National Parks Conservation Association.

The letter includes five members of the state Senate and 15 members of the state House of Representatives. It also includes 13 community leaders, including Paula L. Houston, Executive Director of the Mathews East Madison YMCA, Bob Kelly, Policy Director for the Nooksack Indian Tribe, and Peter Jackson of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.

The full letter can be found here: http://www.npca.org/media_center/pdf/Wolf_Support_Letter_2010.pdf

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