SEATTLE - Scientists who have reviewed the draft of Washington's Wolf
Conservation and Management Plan have a disagreement over the numbers.
According to the scientists, the population recommendations in the draft
plan aren't biologically defensible and will not ensure the
reestablishment of a self-sustaining population of gray wolves in
David Graves, Northwest field representative for the National Parks
, says his organization does not expect to
please everyone who's interested in the issue.
"At least a science-based plan will have goals that are clear and based
on some fact, rather than just opinion or compromise, or political
dealings. It's something that is objective."
The plan sets a goal of 15 breeding pairs, while the scientists say
between 300 and 600 wolves would be needed to ensure a healthy
population. Some ranchers expressed concerns at recent public meetings
that more wolves will endanger their livestock. Graves says the plan
calls for compensation of any losses suffered by livestock producers.
"There are definitely strong feelings across the spectrum. Some people I
encountered at those meetings feel any wolf is a bad wolf, and that
they're a menace to society and should not be allowed back in the
Graves says there is still room for debate about the exact number with
such a difference between the scientific opinion and the state plan.
"Now, we're not saying that Washington definitely needs 500 wolves, but
15 breeding pairs could result in as few as 97 wolves - and that
obviously is not enough to maintain a viable population."
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released the the
scientific review of the plan, which is available at www.wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/gray_wolf/draft_plan/march2010_wolf_deis_peer_review.pdf