Bill Proposed to Remove Wolf Protection in UT, OR, and WA

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse has introduced a bill to remove the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protections in Washington, Oregon and Utah.

The freshman lawmaker says removing wolves from the list is “long overdue” and would allow state wildlife officials to manage wolves more effectively.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports his bill would also prevent states fromcopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles providing protections to wolves that are stronger than those found in the federal Endangered Species Act.

A spokesman for Conservation Northwest, which works on wolf recovery issues, calls the bill disappointing. Chase Gunnell says there are only a few wolves receiving federal protection in Washington and Oregon

Read More: Bill Proposed to Remove Wolf Protection in UT, OR, and WA |


Fortunately for Cougars and Wolves, there’s Only One Washington

From the Capital Press article:

One Washington, two sides

by Don Jenkins    March 26, 2015

OLYMPIA — Residents of Eastern Washington are frustrated with the more populous Westside of the state. And nowhere was that frustration more prominent than one day last month in the Capitol. On the docket were cougars and wolves, two hot-buttoncopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles issues that split the state right down the center of the Cascade Range.

In one hearing, Eastside ranchers were asking senators to loosen the state’s law against using hounds to chase cougars and keep the predators away from livestock.

In another hearing, an Eastside county commissioner told legislators that his constituents were fed up with wolves.                                                                              …

In the weeks since, lawmakers have agreed to take a close look at the wolf problem. The hounds, however, will remain on the leash. …


“Social Acceptance” of Wolves has Disappeared in NE Washington

[Never mind that wolves are social animals too…]

From Capital Press:

Here is a look at where some agriculture-related bills stand:

• Wolves: House Bill 2107 requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to amend by June 30, 2017, the wolf recovery plan. The bill instructs game managers to review thecopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles plan in light of the fact that wolves are concentrated in northeast Washington but have not spread throughout the state.

The bill got bipartisan support in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. But it may be amended by the full House to require that changes to the wolf plan be reviewed under the State Environmental Policy Act, a lengthy process.

Northeast Washington officials say “social acceptance” of wolves has about disappeared in their corner of the state. If SEPA is attached to HB 2107, any change to the wolf recovery plan likely will be pushed back much later than mid-2017.

• Cougars: SB 5940 would allow hounds be used to pursue or hunt cougars in Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Chelan and Okanogan counties for the next five years. Other counties could opt in. The bill received bipartisan support in the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee.

WA legislation proposes relocating wolves


Kretz legislation proposes relocating wolves

Washington’s best wolf habitat is in the southern Cascade Mountains, where vast federal lands support more than 20,000 elk in the state’s two largest herds.

State biologists expect wolves to discover this prime territory and thrive there by 2022, after gradually dispersing south along the Cascade range.

But seven years is too long a wait for state Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, whose Northeast Washington legislative district is currently home to 11 of the state’s 14 wolf packs, as well as cattle ranchers and sheep herders.

He’s again sponsoring what he calls a “share the love” bill that would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to try relocating wolves to other parts of Washington.

“Most of the support in the state for wolves … comes from areas where there are no wolves,” said Kretz, who last year sponsored a bill to capture Eastern Washington wolves and transplant them to the districts of West Side legislators opposed to any controls on the predators.

But the current bill, HB 1224, isn’t a jab at Western Washington, Kretz said. Instead, it’s intended to speed up wolves’ colonization of the state, which would hasten the removal of federal and state protections for wolves and allow for more active management.

The legislation is among several wolf-related bills scheduled for hearings today in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Relocating wolves would face steep political hurdles, but some livestock producers and environmental groups think the idea has merit.

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association wants ranchers to have more options for dealing with wolves that attack livestock, said Jack Field, the association’s executive vice president. That won’t happen until wolf populations recover to the point that federal protections are lifted throughout the state, and relocating wolves would make that happen faster, he said.

According to Washington’s wolf recovery plan, wolves will remain a protected species until at least 15 breeding pairs are documented across the state for three years. The pairs must be geographically dispersed so there are breeding pairs in Eastern Washington, north-central Washington and a zone that includes the south Cascades and Western Washington.

Environmental groups also support faster colonization.

“The South Cascades has the best wolf habitat in the state because of the prey base,” said Mitch Friedman, Conservation Northwest’s executive director. In addition to the Yakima elk herd, with about 10,000 animals, the area contains the St. Helens herd, which is infected with a bacterial hoof disease.

“The state is hiring gunners to mercy-kill some of those elk. Wolves would do a better job,” Friedman said.

But the southern Cascades and the Olympic Peninsula, which also has good wolf habitat, are rural and conservative, much like Northeast Washington. Politically, it would be difficult to get the support to relocate wolves, Friedman said.

“There’s a big difference between wolves coming there on their own paws versus in a state pickup truck,” he said.

That’s one of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s concerns, said Dave Ware, the agency’s policy lead on wolves. In the Northern Rockies, anti-wolf advocates have never forgotten the federal government transplanted Canadian wolves into Yellowstone and Central Idaho.

“There’s that stigma that you brought them here, versus them moving in naturally,” Ware said.

The endeavor also would be costly and time consuming, he added. State biologists figure they would need to trap and transplant about 30 wolves – preferably in packs – to end up with several breeding pairs that would stick around in their new location.

Such an action would require thorough state and federal environmental analysis, which would take two to three years to complete. A wolf relocation pilot project, as outlined in Kretz’s bill, would cost about $1 million, according to state estimates.

In a few years, wolves will be establishing packs in the South Cascades on their own, Ware predicted. Wolf tracks have been documented northwest of Yakima, in the foothills of the Cascades, where credible sightings of multiple wolves also have occurred. Last spring, a photo of a wolf was taken in Klickitat County.

“They are bounding around. They’re looking,” Ware said. “It’s just a matter of time before a male and female find each other and decide to start a pack.”

But Kretz said livestock producers in Northeast Washington need faster action to protect their animals from wolf attacks. He and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, also are sponsoring or co-sponsoring several other wolf bills.

Also on the agenda for today’s hearing are bills that would order the Fish and Wildlife Department to manage wolf problems with “lethal means” under certain circumstances and give the Fish and Wildlife Commission more leeway in changing a state endangered species classification.

Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate, allowing state endangered species to be declassified by region. If adopted, it would allow the state to manage wolves differently in the eastern one-third of Washington than in other parts of the state.

“We’re putting out a number of ideas,” Short said. “We’re saying we just need some relief.”

copyrighted wolf in river

Capital Press: Washington lawmaker proposes moving wolves

Don JenkinsCapital Press

Published:January 16, 2015 4:56PM



A northeast Washington legislator introduces bills to speed up wolf recovery.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A northeast Washington legislator has introduced two bills to hasten wolf recovery and the day the predator no longer is protected by the state’s endangered species law.

Rep. Joel Kretz, an Okanogan County Republican, said ranchers can’t wait several more years for wolves to spread out before measures are put in place to control their numbers.

He said “social acceptance” of wolves has eroded in his district because his constituents have suffered the consequences of what’s purported to be a statewide goal.

“I’m really concerned about the disproportionate distribution more than anything,” Kretz said. “I don’t want to kill the last wolf, but we have to have more management tools than we’ve had so far.”

House Bill 1224 would authorize the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to study moving wolves to state or federal lands in regions of the state they have yet to venture.

House Bill 1225 would allow the state to remove wolves from its endangered species list in regions where recovery goals have been met. Regional delisting would open up discussions about whether to regulate wolves as a game animal in some areas.

The state’s recovery plan carves up the state in three districts, with each region needing at least four breeding pairs. The plan does not limit the wolf population.

The state’s wolf recovery plan holds out as an option moving wolves to help the species establish itself throughout the state. WDFW Game Manager Dave Ware said the agency isn’t considering it.

At a work session Thursday, Ware told the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that moving wolves would require studying the environmental impacts. The studies would take years and by the time they were done, wolf recovery objectives would probably have been met, he said.

WDFW projects recovery could occur as soon as 2021.

“Moving a few wolves out of the northeast probably isn’t going to solve your problem because those wolves would probably be replaced pretty fast,” Ware told Kretz at the work session.

Kretz proposes waiving state environmental review laws in moving wolves. The state would still have to comply with federal laws.

Two years ago, Kretz introduced tongue-in-cheek legislation calling on the Olympic Peninsula and Whidbey Island to “enjoy” the “ecological benefits” of “apex predators.” The bill this year has a serious tone, calling on WDFW to look for “suitable (wolf) habitat that is located the farthest from any known and recognized wolf packs and the most unlikely to be populated through the natural dispersion of the species.”

The bills have been referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Hearings on the bills have not been scheduled.

“I think there’s more of a recognition we have a real problem in the northeast,” Kretz said.

De-listing wolves by region would erase a lot of the frustration, he said.

New WDFW Pick is Former Idaho Gun-Nut

The following is an open letter by an anonymous reader…

The Fish and Wildlife Commission’s recent choice for the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is an inappropriate choice for Washington.

The new director is from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which is known for its brutal archaic wildlife management style.  They support many practices, which have been banned here by state initiatives because of the cruelty involved.  These practices include bear baiting, hounding, and the use of steel-jaw traps.  They promote the killing of wolves in all kinds of despicable ways and put little emphasis on protecting endangered species.

The primary mandate for WDFW is to protect, preserve, and perpetuate our state’s wildlife.  The Commission’s choice of director is inconsistent with this mandate and is ill suited for our state.  I fear for the future of our wildlife.

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Unsworth is Unworthy for Washington Wildlife

The Governor must First approve Unsworth as the new Director of WDFW…..We can’t let this happen!! He’s an avowed wolf hater!! Here is WA Governor Inslee’s contact info…PLEASE call the Governor ASAP and Say NO to Unsworth!!!
More info from Jerry:
Idaho exported George Pauley to Montana and now Jim Unsworth to Washington….two avowed wolf haters. Look what Pauley has done in Montana and you can expect the same from Unsworth. To my knowledge Unsworth does not have a fisheries background which you’d think would be very important with the very complicated fisheries situation we have in Washington….seems that didn’t matter to the commissioners. Would like to know which commissioners voted for him…

Meanwhile in Illinois, Proof that Governors can occasionally do good things for wildlife, Illinois Gov. just vetoed a bill that would have allowed bobcat hunting there:

Gov. Quinn vetoes bill to allow Illinois bobcat hunting

Sunday, January 11, 2015 04:27PM

Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday vetoed a bill to allow bobcat hunting in Illinois for the first time in more than 40 years, saying the small, nocturnal cats “continue to need protection” even though they have been removed from the threatened species list.

Quinn issued a brief statement in which he said allowing hunting would violate a responsibility to maintain Illinois wildlife.

“Bobcats are a valuable part of Illinois’ ecosystem and continue to need protection,” he said.

His decision ignores the recommendation of the state Department of Natural Resources, which supported a hunting season as a way to help in long-term management of the species…

[Just how hunting them would help the bobcats was not clear, but the misguided policy falls in line with wildlife “management” actions nationwide.


Polarized Wolf/Anti-Wolf groups battle with billboards

The Defenders of Wildlife launched a pro-wolf billboard campaign in the Spokane area this month to counter anti-wolf billboards.

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Opposing views of gray wolf recovery in Washington are on display in a Spokane-area battle of the billboards.

The Defenders of Wildlife, a national wildlife advocacy group, has contracted for nine billboard posters that appeared this month. The message responds to a similar outdoor advertising campaign initiated in November by an anti-wolf group called Washington Residents Against Wolves.

Four of the eight WARAW billboards feature photos of a deer, an elk, a calf, a dog and a young girl on a swing with the text: “The Wolf – Who’s Next on Their Menu?”

“What we want is for people to ask very serious questions about the presence of wolves in Washington State before the reality confronts them,” said WARAW spokesman Luke Hedquist in a media release introducing the campaign.

In response, Defenders has put up nine billboards with the headline “Reality Check! What’s More Dangerous?” Four images help answer the question based on average deaths per year in the United States: “Lightning 33. ATVs 413. Elevators 26. Wolves 0.”

“We just want to cut through the myths to the facts,” said Shawn Cantrell, Defenders Northwest director based in Seattle.

Gray wolves remain under state endangered species protections in Washington as they naturally reoccupy their native range in the state.


Simply Not Justifiable


You may have heard the tragic news that a coyote hunter reportedly killed the lone female gray wolf who made international headlines when she showed up just north of the Grand Canyon- the first wolf to appear in that region in decades. This devastating news is all the more reason why we need to redouble our efforts to stop the wanton wide-scale killing of predators like coyotes, foxes, wolves and bobcats. It is simply not justified in this day and age.


It may be weeks before additional testing reveals whether the wolf killed in Utah is the same one, which was nicknamed Echo…

Echo was the first gray wolf seen in the Grand Canyon since the 1940s, when the last wolf there was killed as part of an extensive eradication campaign, said Chris Cline with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Meanwhile, from:

…While lawmakers are in session, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is expected to update its wolf count. The census may spark talk about how to manage the animals when they are no longer listed as endangered under federal or state law, said Moses Lake Republican Judy Warnick, the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Committee.

“The more they spread, the more willing people will be to have these discussions,” she said.

Kretz needled wolf advocates in 2013 with a bill proposing to relocate wolves close to Seattle. The legislation never got a hearing, but it succeeded in getting people talking, Kretz said.

This year, Kretz said he may propose regional delisting, releasing wolf-populated regions of Washington from the state’s wolf recovery plan.

Such a move would ease growing tensions between state wildlife managers and eastside counties, he said.

“I seriously hope I could get it done,” Kretz said.

He would have to find sympathetic westside Democrats. But even sympathy may not translate into votes. House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Brian Blake faulted the state plan for requiring wolves to be spread through the state before being considered “recovered” in any region.

“The folks in north-central Washington are being eaten out of house and home with no potential delisting in sight,” Blake, D-Aberdeen, said.

Still, Blake warned that amending the wolf-recovery plan could invite lawsuits.

“If we legislatively start pulling it apart, that, in my opinion, leaves us open to bigger problems,” he said. “I think you’re going to see potential for active management once the state population is delisted.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that won’t happen until at least 2021.


copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

Editorial in the Olympian, WA: State DFW needs visionary leadership


December 5, 2014 

One of the most difficult challenges of the 21st Century is how to sustain life on our ever more crowded planet for many generations into the future. It’s a daunting task because it requires us to confront issues ranging from population growth to climate change to the importance of biodiversity in our ecosystem.

On the biodiversity front, the state of Washington has an immediate opportunity to create a paradigm shift within the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) by hiring a visionary director who will lead the state toward a sustainable future for all species.

The department’s current director, Phil Anderson, is retiring at the end of this year after slightly more than five years in the position. The state’s independent nine-member Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will select Anderson’s successor.

It’s a critical appointment that should not be rushed.

Since its creation in 1890 as a Fish Commission, the department has been focused on animals people hunt, fish and eat. Much later, species protected by the Endangered Species Act were added to the mix.

It wasn’t until 1921 that the Legislature abolished the Fish Commission and created a separate Department of Fisheries that focused on salmon caught commercially, and a Department of Game and Game-Fish. In 1987, the Department of Game was changed to the Department of Wildlife. And in 1994, state lawmakers merged the two departments into one Department of Fish and Wildlife, overseen by a commission that sets policy and goals.

It’s questionable whether these two cultures – fish and wildlife – have ever been effectively merged. And there is lingering tension between the biologists who see the value of all species and the hunters, fishers and ranchers who want wildlife managed to serve their own interests. Some current and former employees say that tension is the reason a recent survey of state agencies ranked morale in the DFW near the bottom, just above the Department of Corrections.

If the Fish and Wildlife Commission selects a change-agent who understands the important role of biodiversity in sustaining human life, it would bring the department back together and re-energize its legion of passionate young biologists.

Other states, such as Missouri and Florida, have moved away from the antiquated fish and game model to focus on protecting all species. Young biologists today recognize that less charismatic animals play a key role in our planet’s ecosystem and that we can no longer futilely attempt to pack all the nature we need into parks. We must preserve diverse wildlife in diverse ecosystems.

But the DFW seems to be moving in the opposite direction. That is evident in the department’s mismanagement of wolf hunts in northeastern Washington, where it catered to the small percentage of ranchers who refuse to abide by the state’s wolf conservation plan.

It’s important for the public and elected leaders to voice their concern to the commission – it meets Dec. 12 -13 in Olympia – that the DFW should join the broader effort toward sustainable living for all creatures, great and small. or