By STEVE JACKSON
A bill before Washington lawmakers would direct the Fish and Wildlife Department to come up with different wolf management plans for different regions of the state with more activity in areas where populations are rapidly increasing.
It would provide more staff and resources for areas with the most wolves, including northeast Washington counties. It would still allow for lethal control, but also increase efforts to use non-lethal methods of control for wolves that prey on livestock.
The bill has passed the House, and had a Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday.
Senator Joel Kretz was one who testified in favor of the measure.
“I think with this we’ll have people plugged in locally and get out there before there are problems. I do want to mention the non-lethal effort is a work in progress. It’s not perfect but it is a huge tool,” Kretz said.
Sophia Ressler of the Center for Biological Diversity testified against the bill. She said she has issues with a call for different management styles depending if recovery goals for the number of wolves have been met in different regions.
“It thus legislates that livestock wolf conflict management actions be based on number of wolves present rather than what experts conclude is best in managing such conflicts,” Ressler said.
Ressler said, in many cases, killing of wolves involved in cattle depredation can increase conflicts, move the wolf population to neighboring properties and reduce social tolerance for existence with wolves.
Fish and Wildlife’s top wolf expert, Donny Martorello, said an annual report on the state’s wolf populations will be released Friday.