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Rare compromise reached in Washington's wolf war

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By Gary Chittim
King 5 News

Mitch Friedman of the group Conservation Northwest said giving ranchers the assurance they can protect their cattle in heavily populated wolf country is reasonable as long as wolves are strictly protected in areas of the state where they are rare.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A rare compromise spread a blanket of good will over Washington state’s burning wolf issue.

The Washington State Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Commission accepted the recommendation of a group of lawmakers from both sides of the wolf issue and now the state has a rule allowing ranchers to shoot wolves caught in the act of attacking livestock or pets on private property.

Ranching and wildlife protection groups also agreed to the measure which has strict rules and penalties for those who violate them, but it basically allows ranchers to use lethal force to stop a protected species from attacking their animals.

State lawmakers failed to reach that agreement during the session which got heated at times. But after the closing gavel fell, several of them met to discuss a compromise they could present to the WDFW Commission.  Sen. John Smith (R) Colville, and Sen. Kevin Ranker (D) Orcas Island, were at odds over the issue during the session but helped guide the compromise.

Conservation groups signed on. Mitch Friedman of the group Conservation Northwest said giving ranchers the assurance they can protect their cattle in heavily populated wolf country is reasonable as long as wolves are strictly protected in areas of the state where they are rare.

Jack Field of the Washington State Cattlemen’s Association said his members are happy and would never have predicted a compromise like this when the contentious legislative session began.

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