by Lacy Gray
Washington lawmakers have several bills before them concerning gray wolves. House Bill 2365 would add the gray wolf to the list of big game species and would allow the State Wildlife Account to be used for compensating owners of commercial livestock for damage caused by wild carnivores. WCA Executive Vice President Jack Field talks about the need for the WDFW to be able to regionally delist gray wolves.
FIELD: As we look to the legislative session one of the things we had talked about was the ability and the need for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to be able to regionally delist apex predators. And by that what we are trying to do is give the Department of Fish and Wildlife the legal authority to regionally delist the gray wolf. The Washington Cattlemen’s Association and The Hunter’s Heritage Council had petitioned the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and requested that they remove state protection for the gray wolf in the eastern one third of Washington. Our petition was denied, so we’ve worked with a number of legislators and as a result there’s been a bill introduced, and that would be the first step in trying to put a little more common sense back into predator management in Washington State and hopefully giving the Department of Fish and Wildlife the clear legislative direction and intent to manage apex predators before they become a problem and cause devastating impact on ungulates and livestock.
To date no funding has been provided for compensation to the owners of commercial livestock.