Call it coincidental timing or something else, but two essays have appeared in the past few days that have captured the attention of Northwest hunters, who seem prepared to fight back against what they believe is a tidal wave of wolf expansion and advocacy that has not been very well thought through.
This column discussed one of these articles the other day, and now an equally-challenging commentary from Guy Eastman (of the hunting journals) has offered another view that points a finger at Washington and neighboring Oregon, and it’s not good. Eastman’s article challenges wildlife management agencies that allegedly find themselves victims of their own management shortfalls. Hunters on two popular Northwest forums — Hunting-Washington and HuntFishNW — talk about wolves here, here, here and here. These are, after all, the people who pay most for conservation and enhancement of the wildlife resources, so they should have a strong voice.
Here’s what Eastman says:
We’re continuing to see an alarming trend in Western wildlife management. I am calling it the “Predator Death Spiral.” The underlying cause of this phenomina is when a wildlife agency attempts to hide or “pad” their big game population estimates when over predation begins to take hold. This in turn creates a downward spiral that cannot easily be avoided, and is often not even noticed until the state hits both a financial and PR rock bottom. Idaho was the first state to hit the wall with the “Spiral” followed by Montana and now Wyoming has begun to slip into the Spiral’s grip. The wolf situation has caused these three Western states to slide down the jagged slope of diminishing herds, shrinking revenues and bad PR among their customers and financial lifeline…out-of-state hunters.—Guy Eastman
When was the last time non-resident hunters came knocking on Washington’s doors by the legions? Many years ago they came here to hunt abundant pheasants in the Columbia Basin, mountain lions and black bears. But you don’t find them rushing here to buy an elk or deer tag.
Eastman said the problems that are beginning to plague big game herds in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are heading this direction, courtesy of expanding wolf populations. However, don’t blame it all on wolves. Mountain lion and black bear populations have grown rapidly since a ban on hound hunting — a ban that the State Legislature could abolish as a public safety issue — was imposed more than a decade ago.
Those who argue for wolves acknowledge, perhaps unintentionally, that wolves do pose a public safety problem. Here’s what one sharp-eyed correspondent said on a popular Northwest hiking forum in reaction to a suggestion that wolves be released in urban environments, where the wolf advocates more typically reside:
As for releasing the wolves in cities, I doubt that would ever happen. It is a serious public safety issue. Ever been around when a bear or cougar wanders into town? They tell everyone to stay in their houses and send in SWAT teams. The wolves will eventually get there on their own.
We haven’t even touched on the burgeoning coyote problem. This columnist has seen coyotes in Bellevue and Issaquah, and more commonly in suburban communities like North Bend and Snoqualmie. They’re in Seattle and Tacoma. Coyotes definitely prowl around Spokane, Ellensburg, Wenatchee and other cities.
Where wolves are concerned, management problems have become so critical that legislation was adopted earlier this year to remove federal protections from wolves in Montana, Idaho and other states, including the eastern third of Washington. The Evergreen State still has a state law protecting wolves, however, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife seems to many people to be far too interested in expanding the wolf population here, regardless the impact on big game herds. Here’s what Eastman says about that:
Wolves have already begun to take hold in Washington, Oregon and Utah. Nevada, and Colorado are certainly next. And for all of you Midwest whitetail hunters out there, sorry, your (sic) not safe either. The government has devised a plan to expand the Mexican wolf North from Arizona and New Mexico into Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, North and South Dakota and Nebraska to connect with the upper Midwest wolf populations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This would give super predators a way to control whitetail deer populations minus the use of hunting as a management tool.—Guy Eastman
Wouldn’t that be just great with anti-hunters? Eliminate the nasty old hunter from the management scheme and let predators thin the herds. What will the predators eat when they can’t find enough elk and deer?
There goes the neighborhood.
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