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Inside Olympia — Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Washington Wildlife First

For the final episode of our three-part series on fish and wildlife management in Washington state, host Austin Jenkins sits down with representatives of two groups who watch the issues closely and advocate on those issues – sometimes from opposite sides: Claire Davis of WA Wildlife First, and Dan Wilson of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. 

Both talk about the background, and missions, of their organizations. Davis and Wilson both say their two organizations often agree on the “big” issues like habitat conservation and maintaining biodiversity. But both also are critical about aspects of fish and wildlife management.

Davis says the Fish and Wildlife Department needs to move faster on key issues, and that voices other than hunters and anglers have been left out of the conversation on these issues. She sees a difference between department science and policy decisions made by department leaders.

Wilson says recent commission decisions have been poorly handled, promoting division rather than collaboration and lacking good process and transparency. He also faults the commission for failing to pay enough attention to native tribes.

One key point of disagreement between the two organizations: Cougar hunting. The Fish and Wildlife Commission is set to decide in July on a petition from WA Wildlife First and other groups to change cougar hunting rules. Davis says cougar populations are threatened and hunting rules have been handled poorly. Wilson contends cougar populations are healthy and the commission has been told that by the department.

Another issue on the commission’s plate in July: Whether to downlist the status of wolves in Washington. Davis opposes the proposal to downlist.

That and more in our interview with fish and wildlife stakeholders, this week on Inside Olympia.