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Washington wolf bills 2013

Jan 25, 2013
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A run down of the wolf bills before the state legislature as of March 2013. Conservation Northwest supports bills that promote proactive wolf-livestock conflict avoidance.

Washington wolf bills 2013

A few recent bills keep wolves on the run. Photo: Wiki Commons

UPDATED March 15. Here is a rundown on wolf bills still in play before the state legislature.

Take action: Please contact your representative.
Let them know you support increased funding for conflict prevention (HB 1501) and you oppose attempts to undermine the wolf conservation and management plan (SB 5187).

HB 1501 – Wolf license plate

Thumbs up: This bill would establish a specific source of funding for wolf/livestock interactions via the creation and sale of a wolf license plate, and allows additional funds to be used to fund a wolf interaction conflict account. This bill would be a good start to ensuring dedicated funds to addressing wolf and livestock conflict and enhancing coexistence efforts. The bill has passed out of the House and is awaiting Senate action.

SB 5193 – Wolf conflict management

Thumbs sideways: The Senate passed this bill on March 13th after two amendments improved it by narrowing the title (to being only about wolves, not wild carnivores) and dropping the section that would have designated wolves as “big game.” We are disappointed that the bill lacks any increased fines for illegally killing a wolf.

SB 5187 – Drops permit requirement before wolf kill

Thumbs down: This bill removes permit required before killing wolves threatening domestic animals. The bill was passed by the Senate and will receive a hearing March 20 at 8 am in the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee. It would remove the requirement in the wolf conservation and management plan that landowners obtain a permit from WDFW before being allowed to kill wolves they feel to be a threat to their livestock and pets. Landowners could shoot wolves on sight without a permit at any phase of recovery, even while still listed as Endangered. Conservation Northwest has major concerns that this bill lacks clear standards and removes incentive for landowners to work with WDFW to address conflicts before they escalate to require lethal means.

 

Bills no longer in play:

SB 5300 – Wolf Management and Cooperative Agreements

Sponsor: Sen. Ranker  Requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop and maintain a process to offer, negotiate, and enter into cooperative agreements with livestock owners to prevent or minimize damage to livestock caused by wolves. Prohibits owners of commercial livestock from receiving compensation for damage to commercial livestock caused by wolves or graze on state-managed public lands unless they have a cooperative agreement with the Department in effect at the time the damage occurred. 

Thumbs Up.

This bill would provide some necessary accountability for implementing conflict prevention work and ensure that livestock owners operating on state public lands are using methods to minimize conflicts with wildlife. UPDATE: The bill has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee where no further action has been taken.

SB 5188 – Addressing Imminent Threats to Commercial Livestock

Sponsor: Sen. Smith - Allows a county legislative authority to declare if commercial livestock is being threatened by grey wolves and then allows an agent of that county legislative authority to remove the threat without permit. 

Thumbs Down. Oppose this bill with vigor! A major affront to Washington’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, this bill would take wildlife management out of the hands of the Department of Fish and Wildlife to allow county sheriffs, who are not trained in wildlife biology and management, to manage wolves. UPDATE: Passed out of Senate Natural Resources and Parks on Feb 15th, and passed to rules committee for second reading. As of Feb 19, it was eligible to be placed on second reading in rules committee.

SB 5079 – Compensation for Livestock Damage Caused by Wolves

Sponsor: Sen. Roach

Thumbs Up. Creates a dedicated fund for wolf-livestock conflict account. Caps the amount paid out for claims at $50,000. Conservation Northwest supports this bill. UPDATE: This bill passed out of the Natural Resource & Parks Committee on Feb 5 and has been referred  to the Senate Ways & Means Committee, awaiting action on the bill.

SB 5299 / HB 1500 – Wolf License Plate Bill

Sponsors: Sen. Ranker/Sen. Rolfes - Creates Washington's wolves special license plates to fund wolf recovery and conflict prevention. 

Thumbs Up.  Conservation Northwest supports this bill. UPDATE: HB 1500 was passed out of the House Committee on Transportation on Feb 14 and referred to the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, where no action has yet been taken.

HB 1258 – Sharing the Benefits of an Expanding Wolf Population

Sponsor: Rep. Kretz  Relocation of wolf recovery efforts to the Olympia Peninsula and any island of at least 50 sq. miles (San Juan Islands) 

Thumbs Down.  Translocation is an important tool for wolf recovery and should be taken seriously and this bill doesn’t do it justice. Conservation Northwest is ready and willing to discuss how to make translocation happen, but not through this bill. UPDATE: This bill was referred to the House Agriculture &Natural Resources Committee and awaits further action. It is unlikely to receive a public hearing or further action this session.

HB 1337 – Classification of Grey Wolves

Sponsor: Rep. Kretz  Prohibits the Wildlife Commission from classifying, or maintaining a classification, for the grey wolf as endangered and threatened in any area of the state where the Federal Government does not have a similar listing. 

Thumbs Down. This bill would implement a significant change to the state’s science-based and balanced wolf recovery plan. It could hinder recovery efforts, by dramatically reducing the number of wolves in eastern Washington (an important source population) before they have recovered in western Washington. A potential solution to this issue is to use translocation as a tool instead. UPDATE: This bill received a public hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources on Feb 5 and is unlikely to move out of committee this session.

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