State to take public input through Feb. 15
A new draft wolf management plan for California aims to conserve biologically sustainable populations of the predators in areas where there is adequate habitat, while minimizing conflicts with livestock.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife developed the plan in the past few years after wolves recolonized the far northeastern corner of the state. Wildlife managers say they will communicate to the public that natural dispersal of wolves into and through California is reasonably foreseeable given the expanding populations in the Pacific Northwest.
The draft plan is open for public comment through Feb. 15, and watchdog groups say they’re generally pleased with the first draft. More information on the draft plan and public involvement opportunities is online here.
“We support the plan’s initial emphasis on conservation and management of wolves using nonlethal tools and strategies, but we’re quite concerned about how quickly the plan would allow wolves to be killed,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Science shows that nonlethal deterrence methods are more effective at protecting livestock than killing wolves. We’d like to see the state stick with these proven methods.”
Specifically Weiss said the group is concerned that the state could seek to remove protections and allow killing of wolves after the population reaches the low threshold of just 50 to 75 animals — a number that might not be biologically sustainable in the long run.
The plan proposes a phased adaptive management approach, where after establishment of five wolf packs the state will consider more aggressive management to respond to conflicts.
After establishment of nine packs, consisting of just 50 to 75 wolves, the state will seek to remove endangered species protections. The plan fails to explain why such a small, fragile population should have protections removed, simply citing other states that adopted similar approaches.