Lawmakers set meeting to address grizzly & cougar populations,
other "wildlife management" issues
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7th District legislators plan meetings
OLYMPIA - Meetings are planned by 7th District legislators in Kettle
Falls and Tonasket to address public concerns about grizzly bears
Designed as updates on regional wildlife issues, the meetings are
scheduled from 7-9 p.m.
The first will be Dec. 30 at the Kettle River Grange, Barstow. The
second is planned for Jan. 3 in the Tonasket Elementary School commons.
Sen. Bob Morton, R-Orient, scheduled the meetings with his fellow
7th District lawmakers Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Colville, and Rep. Bob
Morton said representatives of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife
and other wildlife agencies have been invited to address issues ranging
from a plan to augment the grizzly bear population in British Columbia
to the status of deer populations in eastern Washington.
"Wildlife management - whether for bear, cougar, deer or other
wildlife - has a real effect on people's lives in our district,"
Morton said. "We want to give them a chance to get answers to
their questions first hand from the various agencies involved in these
Of all the wildlife issues brought to Morton's attention, none has
sparked greater concern than plans by the British Columbia Ministry
of Water, Land and Air Protection to augment the grizzly bear population
in a region of Canada north of the Okanogan and Wenatchee National
Forests, he said.
In Washington, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated a
portion of the North Cascades as a grizzly bear recovery zone, although
no funding has been secured for a federal environmental impact statement
that would be used to assess recovery options for the species in that
In either case, Morton said residents of northeastern Washington are
concerned that grizzlies could stray into inhabited areas.
"To rural landowners, recovery of grizzly bears means invasion
of orchards and livestock," Morton said.
With regard to cougars, the question Morton said he hears most frequently
from is how to get a special state permit that allows the use of hounds
to hunt them.
Steve Pozzanghera, assistant state wildlife manager, said a bear and
cougar specialist from the department will attend both public meetings
to explain the department's "public safety removal process"
and how it is used to address cougar complaints.
Pozzanghera said the department also will have biologists on hand
to answer questions about eastern Washington deer populations and
other issues of interest to area residents.
"This is a great opportunity to get the most current information
directly from those entrusted to manage our state's wildlife,"