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WA: Bill to relocate wolves passes state House

‘It’s something positive we can look to and build upon’

By Brock Hires

OLYMPIA – Under legislation passed today in the state House of Representatives, wolf relocation, a component of the state wolf conservation and management plan, may be used to bring relief to communities struggling with an abundance of wolves.

House Bill 2771, sponsored by Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to immediately initiate and expedite the translocation of wolves in regions where multiple packs range to areas with fewer wolves.

“Getting this bill through the House is a small but significant step. It gets us closer to finally being able to give folks back home some relief,” said Kretz, who has worked on various wolf proposals for nearly 10 years. “This is not the be-all, end-all solution by any means. But my constituents need something. If there isn’t the political will to follow the federal government’s lead to de-list the wolves in my legislative district, than maybe we can export a few to help even things out a bit.”

Kretz’s bill directs WDFW to use best available science to determine potential translocation sites and stresses expediency. Wolves known to depredate livestock or that have shown signs of being habituated to human presence or activities would not be eligible for translocation.

“This option has been on the table as part of the wolf plan but the department tells us they’d like to see the wolves move on their own. The problem I have, is that if we don’t see any wolves in those three other recovery zones there’s really no limit to how many wolf packs could end up in our backyard,” said Kretz. “How many is enough? Thirty packs? Fifty? We’ve got to get these things spread out around the state to speed the completion of the recovery goals, because I can tell you, they’re more than recovered in my district.”

House Bill 2771 passed the House 85-13 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Kretz said he would work closely with seatmate Sen. Shelly Short to work the bill through the other chamber.

“The ranchers and pet owners and those raising livestock in my district have waited long enough,” said Kretz. “This isn’t going to help my neighbors tomorrow or later this spring during turnout when they’re dealing with another wolf kill. But it is a measure of hope. It’s something positive we can look to and build upon.”