Cattlemen, wildlife group sponsor billboard

Groups urge calling sheriff if a predator attacks

A pair of local organizations concerned with the climbing numbers of predators in Stevens County have recently sponsored a billboard urging residents to call their local sheriff if they experience a predator attack.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, in partnership with the Northeast Washington Wildlife Group, recently sponsored a billboard along HWY 395 with the messaging, “Predator attack? Fight back! Call your local sheriff!”

SCCA President Scott Nielsen said the message is needed so citizens understand their best resource for addressing predator attacks is the local sheriff, not the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“We know that WDFW has a very different mandate than the local sheriff when it comes to public safety,” Nielsen related. “When WDFW approaches a situation where a predator has attacked or threatened domestic animals or a person, their first response has often been to blame the person for not doing enough to prevent the attack. This is a problem, especially as predators in the area are becoming more aggressive.”

Nielsen noted an elected sheriff has a mandate to protect public safety and is not quick to blame the affected person but rather how to remove or alleviate the threat.

“We have a much higher confidence in our local sheriff’s ability to recognize and respond to a public safety threat than a group of unelected agents in a wildlife-focused agency,” said Nielsen.

Northeast Washington Wildlife Group Chair John Magart said his group also lacks confidence in WDFW’s response and wants to see changes to predator management.

“Our group supports local control by the Sheriff for predator attacks because the WDFW has a history of doing nothing except chastising the victims of these attacks,” Magart noted. “In the past WDFW has been slow to respond to depredation attacks if they respond at all. The sheriff is an elected official who is responsible for public safety whereas the WDFW say they are not. The local sheriff has firsthand knowledge and local resources to take care of public safety and depredation issues in a timely fashion without rhetoric and blaming by WDFW.”

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