Dori: Are new state wildlife commissioners turning their backs on science?

Dec 8, 2021, 5:03 AM | Updated: Dec 9, 2021, 10:38 am
Cougar, wildlife commissioners...
(Photo by: Dennis Fast / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Dennis Fast / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

I’m not a hunter, but I recognize the role hunting plays as part of a wildlife management plan.

Fortunately, my buddy Tom Nelson — host of “The Outdoor Line” heard weekends on 710 ESPN Seattle — is much smarter and far more experienced on these issues. That’s why I had to have him on The Dori Monson Show to tell listeners about a case that goes far beyond cougars versus elk.

Even if you’ve never held a gun or pulled a trigger, Nelson’s interview is both gut-wrenching and politically painful.

Hear my entire conversation with Tom Nelson here:

The issue involves two new commissioners to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and their response to dwindling numbers of elk due to over-populating, predatory cougars. Studies show all but 11 of 125 elk calves were recently killed in non-hunting incidents, Nelson told me.

Instead, at least one of new commissioners, Fred Koontz of Duvall, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee, downplayed the number of gruesome elk calf deaths. In a recent public meeting, Koontz called “the socially accepted number” of dead elk “more important than the biological number.”

“This blows my mind,” Nelson said.

As an expert who earned a fisheries biology degree from the University of Washington and has been involved with the WDFW work for several decades, Nelson calls this “the single dumbest thing I have ever heard a commissioner utter in 30 years. When you remove science from wildlife management, you’re removing facts and data.”

Nelson isn’t alone is his outrage.

At least one Swinomish tribal leader, Tino Villaluz, calls the new commissioners and their statements examples of “white privilege” made by “western Washington liberals,” who are ignoring the role hunting has traditionally played in wildlife management.

It might be repulsive to anti-gun, anti-hunting listeners, but Nelson’s explanations about how cougar “tooth, fangs and claws” are far more violent than controlled state-regulated hunting seasons were important for me and my listeners to hear.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.  

Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously reported 11 of the 125 elk calves were killed in non-hunting incidents. The correct statistic is all but 11 of the 125 calves were killed.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Dori: Are new state wildlife commissioners turning their backs on science?