Bills introduced in Olympia last week would insert the state Legislature into wolf management.
They are not unexpected. Last fall, Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, told this magazine that he was working on a draft that sounds like HB 1109. It would require WDFW’s final wolf plan to come to legislators for approval. The plan is otherwise currently slated for Fish & Wildlife Commission sign-off this coming fall.
Taylor, a mid-Yakima Valley rancher, terms 1107 the “most interesting of the three.”
It would require the Department of Health to work with WDFW and the state vet to “implement a program to detect, interdict, and assess the epidemiological consequences of diseases that may afflict or may be carried by wolves and the actual and potential impact of wolves’ role in such diseases upon human health in the state,” as well as identify people whose jobs or lifestyles might put them at higher risk to the illnesses.
It is also cosponsored by Reps. Kretz, Short and Condotta.
“Of the three, 1108 is the most comprehensive,” Taylor says. “It takes a different tack. It requires the state to actually manage wolf populations without Endangered Species Act considerations.”
Known as the “Washington wolf recovery act,” it would void existing state-federal agreements and require the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to, among other things, agree that 150 wolves is enough to sustain a population in the state, and ties state wolf management to how successful deer and elk hunters are over three-year periods as well as low livestock predation rates.
Eleven-oh-eight would also give the state attorney general the go-ahead to file damage claims for big game losses and makes those “responsible for inflicting wolves on Washington or preventing state management of wolves … civilly liable for any damages related to the serious physical injury or death of a human as the result of an attack by a wolf during any period of noncompliance with the provisions of this chapter.”
If such an attack were to occur, all wolves within 100 miles of it could be killed by anyone by any means.
And the bill would prohibit citing or arresting anyone for shooting a wolf on private or state land.
All three were referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee, chaired by Rep. Brian Blake, an Aberdeen Democrat who has bristled at part of WDFW’s draft management plan that would use “translocation” as a tool to move wolves from elsewhere inside the state to the Olympic Peninsula to aid recovery of the species.
“I’m fairly optimistic one of the three will get out of committee,” says Taylor, pointing to 1107 as the most likely candidate.
“I think it needs some more work,” says Taylor of Governor Gregoire’s bid to reduce the number of natural resource agencies from 11 to five. “We need to look at the budget implications. The merger would only save $2.45 million.”
Last year, a state Senate bill tried to fold WDFW into the Department of Natural Resources.