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Bill would send wolves to inhabit West Side, too

Sat., Jan. 19, 2013, midnight

OLYMPIA – State Rep. Joel Kretz wants Western Washington to enjoy one of the “advantages” Eastern Washington has: wolves.

Kretz, R-Wauconda, has introduced a bill that would allow the Department of Fish and Wildlife to “translocate” wolves captured in Eastern Washington to the other side of the state where, he said, they seem to have more fans.

“If wolves are so wonderful, I don’t think we should be hoarding them in my district,” he said.

Wolves are a protected species under state law and can’t be trapped or hunted. Seven or eight of the state’s nine recognized packs are in his northeastern Washington district, he said.

Under his proposal, captured wolves could be sent anywhere that has at least 50 square miles of territory, the amount needed for an adult wolf to roam. That would include some islands in Puget Sound, and the Olympic Peninsula.  The entire state would “enjoy the re-establishment of this majestic species,” the bill says.

The department does not currently relocate captured wolves out of their territory, although it does tag or put radio collars on some before releasing them.

He said he asked some Western Washington legislators to co-sponsor the bill but didn’t get any takers.

Kretz himself is not a fan of wolves or their supporters, and he acknowledges the bill may never get a hearing. It’s an attempt to make a point for another, more serious bill he expects to introduce in the next week. That bill would allow the state to take wolves off its endangered species list in Eastern Washington, while keeping them on the list in other parts of the state. The federal government already has taken that step, he said. That would allow ranchers to kill wolves attacking livestock or pets and would possibly lay the groundwork for regulated hunting like in some other Western states.  

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