Olympia, WA – The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife have cancelled in-person open houses on wolf post-recovery plans and will replace them with online webinars this fall.

In a release, the department says that the webinars will be interactive and are going to be scheduled in September and October.

They say that the open houses were canceled following response from the public,

“We’ve seen incredible intensity around wolf issues this summer, on both sides of the issue. For outreach to be meaningful, our meetings have to be productive. Unfortunately, we’ve received some information that indicates to us that the meetings could be disrupted, possibly creating an unsafe meeting environment for the public participating,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “Based on our initial outreach to stakeholders, we think digital open houses and a robust survey will be our most productive means of gathering feedback on this initial scoping effort.”

The open houses were scheduled to discuss scoping related to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process that will be used to develop a post-recovery plan. 

“Scoping helps us determine proposed actions, alternatives, and impacts to be considered in the post-recovery wolf plan,” said Julia Smith, WDFW wolf coordinator. “The scoping process is intended to improve decisions, find early resolutions to potential conflicts, and frame the relevant issues. We want this to be a thoughtful and constructive process for all involved.”

The department states they will hold three live webinars where participants can receive information, ask questions, and learn how to provide input. 

The dates for these digital open houses will be announced soon. 

“The Department’s work to develop this plan is a multi-year effort. As wolf management options begin to take shape, there will be further opportunities to engage with agency staff.”

The public scoping comment period will remain open until Nov. 1 and WDFW is encouraging anyone interested to provide input on the scope of the future wolf plan. The Department is accepting comments via online survey and in writing. 

“We will schedule additional in-person engagement opportunities later in the process, once we have a draft plan and are requesting comments.  We will do our best to ensure that those meetings will be productive and safe.” Susewind added.

Washington’s wolf population has been growing since 2008. WDFW proposes to develop a post-recovery conservation and management plan to guide long-term wolf conservation and management under state authority.

More information and the survey on wolf post-recovery planning can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/post-recovery-planning. Live webinar dates will be posted there as soon as they are announced. 

Written comments can be mailed to WDFW – Wolf Post-Recovery Plan Scoping, PO Box 43200, Olympia WA 98504-3200.