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Bill In Washington's State House Aims To Delist Gray Wolf

Doug Smith
National Park Service

Washington’s House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources hosted a public hearing Wednesday on a bill that proposes the partial delisting of wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

The bill would prohibit the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission from listing the gray wolf as endangered “in any county east of the crest of the Cascade mountains that shares a border with Canada.”

According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, nearly 80 percent of Washington’s wolves live in the state’s four northeastern-most counties. Conflict between wolves and cattle ranchers there came to a head last summer, so state biologists opted to kill an entire pack.

Bill co-sponsor Joel Kretz, a Republican from Okanogan County, said the state’s Wolf Advisory Groupwould have to develop a plan if wolves are partially delisted.

“I don’t know really what delisting would mean,” Kretz said. “I would think the people that would be involved at the WAG and all the negotiations would sit down at the table and come up with something.”

There is some concern that if wolves are delisted at the state level, wolf hunting could become legal in Washington.