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WA: Bill would require collars on wolves

The Chronicle

OLYMPIA – A bill before the Legislature would require problem wolves to be radio collared so officials will know where they are.

House Bill 2906, sponsored by 7th District Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, seeks to maximize non-lethal methods of dealing with problem wolves by doing a better job of tracking wolf packs that have been in conflict, said Kretz.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and money in our non-lethal methods,” he said. “But we need the right strategy in place with active communication in order for it to work. We need to be less reactionary and more proactive.

“Ultimately, my bill is about focusing on the problem wolf packs, knowing where they are and having that information communicated to those who need to know,” said Kretz. “If we want non-lethal solutions to work, we have to know where the wolves are.”

The bill would direct the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to prioritize the use of radio collars as a tool to monitor wolves that have been in conflict with livestock and humans.

“The department must radio collar at least two wolves in every pack in conflict,” according to the proposal. “The department is encouraged, but not required, to radio collar at least one wolf in every pack in the state that has been confirmed by the department.”

“There’s a lot of talk about non-lethal measures, but how can we have an effective non-lethal plan when we don’t know where the wolves are?” said Kretz. “There used to be a functioning system where certain wolf locations were known and that information could be relayed to range riders or ranchers. But non-lethal and lethal measures only work when the department has a strategy in place and communicates with ranchers. Right now, they don’t and they aren’t.”

Kretz’s bill has bipartisan support with half of the 12 representatives signing onto the bill being Democrats.

The bill was sent to the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The 60-day 2020 legislative session is scheduled to end March 12.

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