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Inside Olympia — Fish and Wildlife Commissioners Barbara Baker and Jim Anderson

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This week, the first interview in a three-part series on the management of fish and wildlife in Washington state. Host Austin Jenkins sits down for the full hour with Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Barbara Baker, and Commissioner Jim Anderson.

The commission and its decisions have seen conflict and controversy in recent years, on such issues as the management of wolves, the hunting of cougars and black bears, and a new state conservation policy. The commission is closely watched by Washington tribes as well as by stakeholder groups including hunting and fishing groups and environmental organizations.

On the positive side, both Baker and Anderson point to improved relationships between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Legislature, and more funding from the Legislature – including a recent outlay of tens of millions of dollars for biodiversity, in Anderson’s words supporting species that haven’t “felt the love” given to some other higher profile animals.

The commission has important and likely controversial decisions on its plate in the coming months involving cougar hunting, the status of wolves, and more. An ongoing issue is writing a new state conservation policy, and how to define conservation? Baker says the conflict over the policy is akin to the different views espoused over a century ago by John Muir, whose philosophy was based on preservation through non-use, and Gifford Pinchot, who thought nature was to be used by the public. Plus, tribes have asked the commission for a formal government-to-government consultation on the policy, the first time such a consultation has been requested. 

That and much more, as Austin Jenkins sits down with Fish and Wildlife Commissioners Barbara Baker and Jim Anderson.