A bill pushing WDFW to translocate wolves out of Northeast Washington was passed by state representatives yesterday and will now be considered in the Senate.
It could face a tougher go in the upper chamber, and would have to also be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee before going into effect.
“This is not the be-all, end-all solution by any means,” said prime sponsor Rep. Joel Kretz, Republican of Wauconda in a press release. “But my constituents need something. If there isn’t the political will to follow the federal government’s lead to de-list the wolves in my legislative district, than maybe we can export a few to help even things out a bit.”
Legislators made a couple amendments to his original bill, including requiring WDFW to immediately begin the State Environmental Policy Act review process as well as determine that potential relocation areas have stable wolf prey populations.
Raquel Crosier, WDFW’s legislative liaison, said the agency was happy with those tweaks as they clarified concerns from the livestock and conservation communities.
Translocation is part of the state wolf management plan, but WDFW has preferred that the often polarizing animals move west on their own.
The mid-1990s reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and Central Idaho still chafes many the wrong way as the species was otherwise naturally recolonizing the Northern Rockies at the time, albeit slowly.
Most Washington wolves are in four counties, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille, with some also in the Central Cascades and Blue Mountains and at least one in Skagit County.
“The ranchers and pet owners and those raising livestock in my district have waited long enough,” Kretz in the press release. “This isn’t going to help my neighbors tomorrow or later this spring during turnout when they’re dealing with another wolf kill. But it is a measure of hope.”
The bill passed 85-13.
Notably, all the dissenting votes came from a mix of Democrats and Republicans representing largely rural and/or suburban portions of Western Washington, including the South Cascades, Willapa Hills and eastern King County.