(The Center Square) — The Northeast Wildlife Management Group has partnered with a local youth organization for an educational forum next week focused on the state’s handling of predator conflicts.
Reardan’s Future Farmers of America agricultural issues panel will discuss the pros and cons of wildlife management in Washington at 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 25. This event is taking place at the Senior Citizens Ballroom, 302 East Main Street, in Schuelle, and everyone is welcome.
“This is an opportunity for people to learn more about how well state policies to manage predator behavior are working,” said Dale Maggart, secretary of the wildlife group.
Before the FFA bid, Maggart said his organization will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m., which is also open to the public.
The nonprofit organization is dedicated to promoting hunting and fishing, the right to keep and bear arms, protecting wildlife, and preserving wildlife habitats for use by all people.
Maggart said IFFA leaders were present when the Wildlife Group met in Davenport with the Eastern Washington government council in May. This introduction sparked a discussion of how students could research problems to build a public presentation file for state and national competitions.
Maggart and others from the Wildlife Group felt it would be interesting to see what the FFA found after researching how the policies enacted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife were implemented in practice.
In next week’s show, FFA members will aim to equitably present both sides of three major conflicts: the dynamics between prey and predator. interactions of humans and predators; and the effect of predator activity on animal production.
Maggart said the FFA show would take about 15 minutes. The audience will then be able to ask the students questions, which will add another 15 minutes or so to the programme.
Last year, the Wildlife Group wrote a position paper for state officials expressing concerns about the growing numbers of wolves and cougars in the northern sector of the state. That document spelled out concerns about the decimation of herds of deer, elk, and moose.
“We have a predator problem, and it continues to get worse with each passing year,” said Maggart, the author of that paper.
Game numbers provided by the WDFW, he wrote, show that predators killed nearly 20,000 deer during 2021 in the remote corner of the state. Hunters killed an additional 3,600, bringing the annual decline in deer numbers to at least 23,600.
“This does not include the additional loss from bear, coyote, bobcat, automobile or other deaths, which makes these numbers a little worrying,” Maggart said.
The Wildlife Group has asked the state Fish and Wildlife Commission to look into changes in predator management policies to restore sustainability among the herds.
With a minimum of 206 wolves in 33 packs in Washington at the end of 2021, Maggart said, the problems on the eastern side of the state must be addressed because that is where the vast majority of wolves live.
Wildlife Group believes that the only way to stop the descent into the “predator’s hole” is to limit the taking of cougars and coyotes from ungulates. Without doing so, Magartt said, the only option is to reduce the lengths of the hunting season, limit entry through raffles for permits, enact limits on antler points, restrict area for deer marking, or a combination of these and other methods.
Magartt used the WDFW numbers to show why there is cause for concern.
“Starting with 30,000 whitetails at the start of the year, of which 19,800 are available, and adding one doe for each doe, you end up with 49,800 available deer. However, predators and hunters remove at least 23,600, leaving 26,500 to start next year.” explained.
“Starting from the following year adding fewer deer and fewer elk to the pond, but leaving predation numbers the same – which is unlikely given that wolves are increasing at a rate of 28% annually and cougar numbers are also increasing – deer numbers drop to 20,700 per year. end of the year, and then to 11,150 the following year.”
The predation numbers, Magartt said, “should set off alarm bells that, under current policy, our deer herds are not sustainable.”
The Wildlife Group generally meets at 6:30 pm on the fourth Wednesday of every month at Chewelah Casino. The joint meeting in January is a special event that requires a different meeting venue, Maggart said, but the organization will resume its regular schedule in February.