Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
A bill by Washington Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, that asks the state to revisit whether wolves are endangered in Washington has passed the state house and is moving through the Senate, on track to pass.
H.B. 2097 calls for the Department of Fish and Wildlife—which has overseen the killing of wolves on behalf of Washington ranchers whose cattle graze on state land—to determine whether wolves are no longer endangered either statewide or in parts of Washington.
It also calls for more resources to implement nonlethal deterrents to wolf-livestock management, which would be a relief given that a former Washington State University wolf expert said he thought such deterrents were not being implemented properly.
A better solution would be for ranchers to stop grazing their livestock on public land. Barring that, if they do raise their cattle on public land, they could accept the risk that a small percentage might be lost to wolves. The state’s ratio of cattle to wolves is about 1 million to 120, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Yet 20% of the wolves have been killed, most of them for a single rancher.
The center calls for wildlife officials to “follow the science by ramping up nonlethal measures, opening their decisions to scientific peer review and public comment and do more to protect our endangered wolves, which after all is the agency’s mission.”
H.B. 2097 gets it half right. Asking an agency that’s acted on behalf of ranchers to decide whether to delist the wolves as endangered is the other half, and the reason to kill the bill.
Please contact your Washington state legislators (find them here) and ask them not to pass this bill.