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Northwest Sportsman Magazine

WA Senate Wolf Bills Move Out Of Committee

A pair of wolf bills are on the prowl for a second reading after getting passed out of a Senate committee in Olympia late last week.

A substitute version of SB 5187 would allow ranchers, ranch hands, farmers and others to kill wolves attacking or “posing an immediate threat of physical harm” to their livestock, dogs or other domestic animals without a permit from WDFW and regardless of the state’s classification of wolves.

Currently, wolves are state-listed as endangered, but were removed from federal Endangered Species Act protections in the eastern third of Washington, where most are. Last week, wildlife officials reconfirmed that the state’s population basically doubled in 2012.

Two caught-in-the-act permits were offered to ranchers in northern Stevens County last year following wolf activity in the Wedge. Neither were used.

The bill, introduced by a Colville-area Republican, had support from cattlemen, but was opposed by Conservation Northwest and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Legislative staff summarized public comments thusly:

PRO: The wolf plan benefits from this legislation as it offers a solution to manage livestock losses due to predator attacks. People should have a right to protect their property. This change would provide much needed protection to citizens and citizens’ rights to protect themselves, livestock, and pets.

CON: This contradicts the wolf management plan, which was developed through a public process over significant time. The wolf plan authorized lethal take with evidence of depredation, after non-lethal methods had been employed, and with a permit. This should be given time to work.

Pushed out of the Senate’s Natural Resources & Parks committee on the recommendation of six of seven senators on the panel last Thursday, 5187 is now in Rules where it may be scheduled for a floor vote.

That’s also where 5188 is. It would allow counties to declare an “imminent threat” from wolves and, if need be, send out sheriff’s deputies to “abate” it.

Legislative staff summarized public comments thusly:

PRO: The wolf plan benefits from this legislation as it offers a solution to manage livestock losses due to wolf attacks, and in particular implements provisions for local county officials to take action when necessary. County commissioners know the land and the people, and feel a duty to protect the counties in emergencies. They would take the responsibility provided in this bill seriously.

CON: This contradicts the wolf management plan, which was developed through a public process over significant time. Concerns exist about the wildlife management expertise at the local level, and ability to keep up with emerging science if this management authority is provided.

We wrote about the bills previously here.

Where 5187 has a companion bill that’s percolating in the House, 5188 does not.

2 comments to WA Senate Wolf Bills Move Out Of Committee

  • Marian Hennings

    I oppose both of these bills because they do not require use of nonlethal measures prior to shooting of wolves. They are contrary to the wolf management plan which was developed with wide public input and has a scientific basis. County sheriff’s departments are not wildlife specialists and have enough other duties to occupy their time and budgets. I support the bill which would require ranchers to employ protective nonlethal measures before being able to graze their herds on OUR public lands.

  • Keith

    I support these bills as a person should have a right to protect theirselves from harm. Their eventually will be wolf/human conflicts and we should get a head start on this.

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