This week, I am presenting a poster describing my research proposal at the joint meeting of the Washington chapter The Wildlife Society (TWS) and Society of American Foresters (SAF) in Yakima, WA. While living in Tonasket and surveying plants, I have spoken with many hunters who are concerned about decreases in hunter harvest as a result of wolf recolonization. Their concerns are real. Walking down main street in Republic or Tonasket in December hotels, you can hardly pass a shop, hotel, gas station, or restaurant that does not have a sign reading “Welcome Hunters!” Hunting is a huge part of Washington’s economy, generating more than $300 million annually and employing more than 5,500 people*. Decreases in hunting success may impact the small businesses that depend on this important revenue stream. The economic value of hunting is easy to calculate, but the cultural value of hunting can transcend any monetary number. You can’t put a price tag on the family tradition of spending time in the woods, generations of learning to read the animals, and the satisfaction of providing organic, free-range meat to sustain your family. I wanted to know – Are wolves impacting hunter success?
My long-term goal is to look at harvest statistics in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming but I wanted a proof-of-concept to get feedback from wildlife biologists at the meeting. So for my poster, I used a few game management units (GMUs) in Washington with wolves (red) and nearby GMUs without wolves (green) to start tackling this question. Stay tuned for my results!
*US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation