Washington State Hunters Gain New Ally?
By Brian Clintworth
The rogue WDFW commission that has been trying to fast track a new Conservation policy for itself and WDFW hit a roadblock on Thursday, January 25th when six tribes formally asked to have a formal consultation with the state on this far reaching document. The tribes that stepped up to the plate asking the Commission to “Stop action on the draft conservation policy” were the Quileute Tribal Council, Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Lummi Business Council, and Puyallup Tribe of Indians.
This new conservation policy was first introduced in September, 2021. The commissioners that are the primary ones driving it have a concern for the natural world due to climate change and human population growth. The overriding theme of this new policy was one of a preservationist mindset as opposed to a conservation mindset. This policy directly conflicted with the department’s legislative mandates to provide angling and hunting opportunities as well. One can easily see why hunters and anglers were skeptical of the change. The fact that it was attempted to be fast tracked through the system also raised eyebrows.
Five of the six tribes in reviewing the document used the words “severe concerns” about the draft. In addition, they noted that the word conservation was already defined in the United States vs Washington(Boldt Decision). Having the tribes attorneys contact the state attorneys to be engaged in this exercise of developing a new definition of the word conservation finally got the attention of the Commission.
Those commission members focused on pushing this through are already attempting to minimize the delay. Lorna Smith and Melanie Rowland publicly said they want to see the tribal consultations wrapped up in a few months or before the end of the year. One can only wonder what the rush is to implement this policy. It could have to do with the fact that they are actively trying to rollback predator hunting and they are just going into the timeline when they develop the next three year season cycle.
For now Washington hunters and anglers are breathing a sigh of relief, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, the current commission doesn’t like to involve others that don’t share their opinions. Perhaps cooperation with the tribes is going to be one way that hunters and anglers stand and fight in this battle.