Fish and Wildlife Mandate: “Culture War”
Subject: “Refocusing WA Fish and Wildlife’s mandate on conservation” [April 7, Opinion]:
Fred Koontz’s assertion that the mandate of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and its commission to preserve and protect wildlife while providing consumption opportunities must refocus to reverse biodiversity decline is wrong.
Wildlife management policy is informed by science that evolves with the growth of knowledge. Challenges to policy development stem from responding to diverse cultural values and practices. Koontz’s demand that the preservationist precept dominate other cultural practices is a culture war. For culture warriors, not winning the war seems like a quagmire. Sound policy-making does not ban traditional values and practices simply because of intolerance.
In addition, conservation policies and practices contribute to biodiversity decline, exemplified by the destruction of the sage steppe ecosystem by overabundant feral horses, interference with salmon recovery by seals and sea lions. sea that are expanding their range, and ill-informed initiatives banning important tools like dogs and traps. The science-based conservation and management practices of Washington and other state fish and wildlife agencies, including hunting, are essential to preserving biodiversity. The North American model of wildlife conservation and the involvement of hunters in conservation, like organizations like Ducks Unlimited’s work to conserve waterfowl, have done more to preserve, protect and perpetuate wildlife than species litigation. threats of misappropriation of resources championed by Koontz during his short tenure as commissioner.
Kim Thorburn, Spokane, WDFW Commissioner (views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the commission)