A bill federally delisting gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Washington and Oregon as well as elsewhere in the Lower 48 has been approved by a Congressional committee.
The legislation is cosponsored by two Eastern Washington Republicans, Dan Newhouse of the Yakima Valley and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the Spokane area, and Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy.
“The best-available science used by the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that the gray wolf has recovered and is no longer endangered,” said Newhouse in a statement.
He’s previously introduced wolf bills as WDFW has been encouraging him to push the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete its delisting of the species.
In a midspring letter to the lawmaker, the state agency’s Acting Director Joe Stohr wrote that “(to) ensure ongoing success in wolf recovery, the federal listing needs to keep pace with the on-the ground (sic) recovery status and allow the state to fully implement its management plan.”
Most Washington wolves are in the state’s northeast corner, but at least three packs run west of the delisting line, Highways 97, 17 and 395.
The bifurcated status of wolves in the state means that “the only means available for the USFWS to address wolf-livestock conflicts in the geographic area under the federal endangered designation is for the USFWS to attempt to relocated livestock-killing wolves,” Stohr wrote.
In midsummer, the Teanaway Pack, which runs in the still federally listed portion of Central Washington, injured a calf and an adult sheep, killed an ewe and was probably responsible for a missing lamb.
Gray wolves were proposed for delisting by the Obama Administration in 2013, but progress stalled, and then came a Humane Society of the United States court case addressing Canis lupus in the western Great Lakes that blocked USFWS from moving ahead on its full proposal.
There was little movement on that front until in June USFWS said it was again assessing wolf populations and, “(if) appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year.”
It would then undergo public review.
Newhouse’s and McMorris Rodgers’ bill would preclude a delisting from judicial review. It needs to pass the full House and Senate and be signed into law.
Both representatives are up for reelection this fall, with Newhouse likely to retain his seat but McMorris Rodgers in a tighter race, if Fivethirtyeight’s forecast is any indication.