House passes bill to take a second look at wolf management plan

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill March 10 to require the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to review the statewide wolf management plan and its success in Eastern Washington.

Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, sponsored the bill to reflect not only the growing population of wolves in Washington, but also the disproportionate number of packs in northeast Washington.

“Our corner of the state is bearing the burden of wolf recovery in our state,” Kretz said. “While I've tried to convince some of my colleagues to have some wolf packs moved to their districts, they're just not interested. This proposal is about making sure the state takes a look at the reality of what we're dealing with, and gives the agency some discretion to update the plan based on these realities.”

House Bill 2107 would ask the DFW to take a look at the plan, adopted in 2011, and gives the agency flexibility to decide if they should be measuring successful wolf recovery differently. A recent news release by DFW's Wolf Advisory Group reported that the wolf population grew 30 percent in 2014, marking “clear evidence that wolves are recovering in Washington.”

Kretz said you don't have to tell his constituents that wolves are recovering, however. There are 16 wolf packs in the state, with 12 located in northeast Washington.

“While some in Western Washington want to protect the wolves at all costs and think they're a good thing, you can have too much of a good thing, and we've definitely had our fair share in northeast Washington,” Kretz said.

The bill also asks the agency to amend the plan to address the uneven distribution of wolf packs in the state. Currently, the plan requires management of wolf populations when there are 15 successful breeding pairs in the state for at least three years. This bill could allow the agency to amend that management threshold, which may mean earlier intervention with problem wolves preying on livestock and pets.

“We need to do something about this – and if that means giving the agency more flexibility to adapt the plan to reality so we can better manage wolf populations, I'm all for it,” Kretz said. “I'm really pleased to see this pass the House and see my colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognize the problem my district is facing.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration. The 2015 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 26.

###

Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov