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Proposed Bill Could Remove Gray Wolf From Endangered Species List

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Photo courtesy of Anders Illum via Flickr

A bill in the Washington State House proposes to remove the gray wolf from state endangered species protections in some northeast counties.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission has listed gray wolves as an endangered species for the entirety of the state and has adopted a gray wolf conservation and management plan.

That plan calls for a certain number of breeding pairs in various recovery areas across the state.

But the sponsor of HB 1872, Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda), says Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties already have enough wolves. The bill calls for recovery objectives for those counties to be removed, along with special protections for the creatures.

At a hearing of the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee Wednesday, Stevens County Commissioner Wes McCart said people in his district are actually afraid a person could now get hurt.

“They’ve had the ability to know where these wolves are, one of the collared wolves. It is becoming a habituated wolf," he said. "They had their grandkids come and visit them, and because of the number of beeps they were getting right outside their property, watching their dogs, they didn’t want their grandkids outside in the yard playing.”

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Donny Mortello testified against the bill, but agreed it is time to begin to review the wolf management plan. He defended the work of the state Wolf Advisory Group, which brought together stakeholders from many different areas to develop a plan for recovery, and dealing with depredation.

“We believe that process is the only way to manage the issue, if we take shortcuts in the process it’s going be divisive and eventually shortlived,” Mortello said.

Last summer, Fish and Wildlife managers targeted one wolf pack in northeast Washington for extermination after several cattle were killed.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.