Re: “Refocus WA Fish and Wildlife 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 consumptive opportunity must refocus to reverse biodiversity decline is wrong.

Wildlife management policy is informed by science that evolves with knowledge growth. Challenges to policymaking arise from responding to diverse cultural values and practices. Koontz’s demand that the preservationist precept dominate other cultural practices is culture war. For culture warriors, not winning the war seems a quagmire. Sound policymaking does not ban traditional values and practices simply because of intolerance.

Furthermore, preservationist policy and practice contribute to biodiversity decline, exemplified by sage-steppe ecosystem destruction by overabundant feral horses, interference with salmon recovery by range-expanding seals and sea lions, and misinformed initiatives banning important tools like hounds and traps. Washington’s and other states’ fish and wildlife agencies’ science-based conservation and management practices, including hunting, are critical to preserving biodiversity. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and hunter participation in conservation, such as organizations like Ducks Unlimited’s work to conserve waterfowl, have done more to preserve, protect and perpetuate wildlife than resource-diverting endangered species litigation defended by Koontz during his short commissioner term.

Kim Thorburn, Spokane, WDFW commissioner (views expressed are those of the writer and do not represent the commission)