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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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WA wolf bills panned or ‘awfulness’

WILDLIFE LEGISLATION -- A spokeswoman for an organization working on wolf, wildlife and wildland issues in Washington is panning a trio of Canis lupus-related bills introduced in Olympia last week, according to a report by Northwest Sportsman magazine.

“They are spectacular in their awfulness and in the way they distort the truth,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Bellingham-based Conservation Northwest about House Bills 1107, 1108 and 1109. The magazine had looked into the bills in a previous report.

She predicts a quick death for them.

One of her coworkers, Derrick Knowles, a Spokane hunter, is among the 17 members on the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Wolf Working Group, which since 2007 has helped shape the state’s draft wolf management plan.  It is expected to be debated and approved this year.

Read on for more details.

HB 1109 would force the state's wolf management plant to go to the Legislature for approval or rejection and return to WDFW for revisions.

“Never in history has the state legislature been required to approve a recovery plan for an endangered species,”  Minbashian told Northwest Sportsman. “Eleven-oh-nine would allow politics to interfere with science and collaborative decision-making – making the problem worse, not solving it.”

HB 1107 would require the state Department of Health to work with WDFW and the state vet to “implement a program to detect, interdict, and assess the epidemiological consequences of diseases that may afflict or may be carried by wolves and the actual and potential impact of wolves’ role in such diseases upon human health in the state,” as well as identify people whose jobs or lifestyles might put them at higher risk to the illnesses.

Minbashian told Northwest Sportman this “unnecessarily stirs up fears about wolves and disease, not to mention wasting money.”

HB 1108 sets the wolf population bar at 150 and would also tie Washington’s management to how successful deer and elk hunters are over three-year periods.

Minbashian told Northwest Sportsman this would:

  • Circumvent a four-year, collaborative process to develop a balanced, scientifically based wolf management plan for Washington and challenge the authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect wolves in Washington.
  • Make it virtually impossible for the state to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on wolf recovery.
  • Support wolf poaching by prohibiting the citation or arrest of anyone who illegally kills a wolf.

Minbashian is probably going to take the most heat for this statement:

"(HB 1108) makes the entirely false and outrageous claim that wolves are having a negative impact on deer and elk populations in Washington without any factual evidence to back it up,” Minbashian says. “According to recent reports it seems like big game populations (and hunter success rates) in Washington are as high as ever – especially in Northeast Washington where we know we have wolves.”

However, the state has only a few dozen documented wolves at this time. Idaho's experience leaves no doubt that the tide changes significantly as wolves multiply.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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