Cattlemen urge public to call law enforcement for wolf, cougar concerns
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) is urging Eastern Washington residents that are experiencing problems with predators to call their local sheriff first, before calling the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW.)
SCCA notes that the local sheriff has a mandate to protect persons and property, unlike WDFW who is managing wildlife as its priority. WDFW will often fault the public or the landowner for not doing enough to prevent predator attacks instead of managing aggressive wildlife. The difference in perspective has led to some questionable actions by WDFW, according to the cattlemen.
“In the recent incident in Stevens County over Memorial Day weekend, a man was forced to shoot a wolf that threatened his daughter and himself while they were hiking. WDFW did not notify the local sheriff of this incident. When WDFW did share information with the sheriff’s office, the names of those involved were redacted. The agency also suggested the man didn’t need to defend himself and downplayed the seriousness of the situation. This is not acceptable,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “There have also been incidents where WDFW is confirming and then later denying that livestock injuries were caused by wolves. Other predator issues, like cougars, are also not being fully addressed.”
Nielsen noted that the Stevens County and Ferry County Sheriff’s Offices now have a special deputy dedicated to working on predator issues, giving residents an extra resource that based in the community. Special Deputy and Wildlife Specialist Jeff Flood has been hired by Stevens and Ferry Counties to address predator issues.
“In our experience, local law enforcement has always been behind the people in this county and is most interested in their safety and welfare. If we don’t involve our sheriff in all predator incidents, we are removing accountability for WDFW,” said Nielsen.
In addition to providing accountability, the local sheriff can ensure that an accurate record of an incident is being created for local law enforcement, according to Stevens County/Ferry County Special Deputy Flood.
“If the public doesn’t call the sheriff’s dispatch first, then no local record of a predator incident is being created. Having an accurate record available for law enforcement is important for the sheriff’s department to protect public safety,” Deputy Flood related.
Flood said residents with any predator concerns, including wolves, should call the Stevens County dispatch at 684-2555 or Ferry County dispatch at 775-3132. Residents of either county can also call 911 and ask for a sheriff’s deputy to respond. Flood can also be contacted directly at 680-6431 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.