Washington is considering options to speed up wolf recovery and remove the wolf from the endangered species list in specific regions as recovery goals are met.
There are few subjects regarding conservation that evoke emotions as strong as wolves do. The state of Washington is no different in this respect, with hunters and ranchers in eastern Washington squaring off against environmentalists in western Washington on the issue.
Wolves made headlines in Washington last year during the course of a weeks-long battle to stop a wolf pack from preying on livestock in the eastern part of the state. The effort resulted in a professional sharpshooter accidentally killing the alpha female of the pack.
State Representative Joel Kretz (R), representing Okanogan County, is no stranger to the debate. He recently introduced legislation that would enable the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to study moving wolves into areas that they haven’t yet reached, as well as allowing the state to regionally delist the wolf in areas where they have already met population goals.
Frustration with wolves is reaching new heights among ranchers and hunters in eastern Washington, where all of the wolves in Washington are currently located.
According to Representative Kretz:
I’m really concerned about the disproportionate distribution more than anything. I don’t want to kill the last wolf, but we have to have more management tools than we’ve had so far.
Under this new plan, the state would be divided into three districts and each district would need at least least four breeding pairs for the wolf to be delisted. This could potentially allow Washington to manage wolves as a game animal in regions where wolves have met population goals instead of waiting for the wolves to reach population goals for the entire state.
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