PREDATORS -- Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation that will provide state wildlife managers more resources to prevent wolf-livestock conflict and expand criteria for compensation to livestock owners for wolf-related losses.
Senate Bill 5193, requested by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and prime-sponsored by Sen. John Smith, R-Colville, was supported by a cross-section of interest groups.
"Washington state is committed to wolf recovery, but sustainable recovery requires that we address the legitimate needs of farmers, ranchers and other residents of the communities that are on the front line of wolf recovery," said Phil Anderson, WDFW director. "This bill does that."
As signed by the Governor, the new law:
- Increases the state's personalized license plate fee by $10, effective Oct. 1, with the proceeds to support WDFW's efforts to monitor wolf recovery and prevent wolf-livestock conflict in collaboration with farmers, ranchers and local governments, and to compensate livestock owners. The Department of Licensing estimates the fee will raise more than $1.5 million during the upcoming two-year budget cycle.
- Allows WDFW to compensate livestock owners for their losses at the current market value of the animals.
- Permits compensation regardless of whether livestock owners were raising the animals for commercial purposes.
- Revises other elements of state law to make it more consistent with the state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan as adopted by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission in December 2011.
As of March, there were 10 confirmed packs and two suspected packs, plus two packs with dens in Oregon and British Columbia whose members range into the state. Most of the confirmed packs are found in Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.
The public can help the state manage wolves by reporting mere sightings as well as suspected attacks on livestock on the WDFW hotline, (877) 933-9847
Or use the state's wolf observation website to report wolf sightings or suspected attacks.