OLYMPIA, WA – A Washington State lawmaker has introduced legislation that would remove gray wolves from the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s endangered species list in four eastern Washington counties. House Bill 1872 would prohibit the agency from designating or maintaining a designation of the gray wolf as an endangered, threatened, or sensitive species in those counties along the Canadian border – areas of the state hit the hardest by predatory actions.
The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Joel Kretz, raises horses and cattle on a ranch in the mountains of Okanogan County near Wauconda. He says he has seen firsthand the devastation of predatory gray wolves.
“We’ve got one rancher with upwards of 70 head losses this year. You can’t sustain that very long. I’m really concerned that we’ve got grazing season this spring and I’m afraid that we’ll have a lot of ranchers will be out of business this year if it goes like it has,” Kretz says.
Kretz says the federal government has already delisted gray wolves. Some 19 packs have recovered with growing populations, and 16 of those packs are in northcentral and northeast Washington counties. The 7th District lawmaker says his bill could allow the state to get a preview in the four counties of proper wolf management before the animal is finally de-listed statewide.
The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.