OLYMPIA – The state could revise a 4-year-old plan on wolves to account for their rapid growth in northeast Washington under a bill that received unanimous approval in the House on Tuesday.
Changes, which could include new rules for “lethal management” of wolves and new enforcement measures for poaching, would have to be completed by mid-2017.
The state could also expand a small study on the effect of wolves on deer, elk and moose to cover the whole state under another bill that also received unanimous House support.
“Regardless (of) how you feel about wolves, this is too much of a good thing,” Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, said about the need to review the 2011 plan that sets up procedures to manage wolves that prey on livestock. “There are people who think there never should be a wolf killed; other people think we should kill every one.”
The bill is an attempt to find middle ground, particularly in Washington’s 7th District, which has as many as 12 of the state’s 16 packs, said Kretz, the sponsor of the bill.
The state also needs to understand what the recovering wolf population means to their main food sources, said Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy. The University of Washington is studying the effect of wolves on deer, elk and moose on the Colville Confederated Tribes’ Reservation, and one of the bills approved Tuesday would expand that to encompass the entire state.
“We are going to live with wolves in Washington,” Short said. “We should have information to guide our future.”
The bills now go to the Senate, which last week passed a similar bill on revising the wolf management plan. Sponsors will have to work out the differences to get identical bills approved by both chambers.
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