By RICHARD BYRD, For the Basin Business Journal
WASHINGTON D.C. — After two U.S. District Court decisions in 2014 reinstated gray wolves for protection under the Endangered Species Act, Fourth Congressional District Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, has introduced a bill that would return management of the animal to the states.
The two 2014 decisions transferred management of the gray wolf to the federal government and granted the animals certain protections that are spelled out under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The declassification bill, referred to as the “Manage our Wolves Act,” was introduced by Newhouse and Rep. Sean Duffy, R Wis., and has been met with broad bipartisan support in an attempt to provide a legal path for farmers and ranchers to protect their livestock from the gray wolf.
“Our bipartisan legislation would take sound science into account. It would return management of the gray wolf to the states according to the needs of the species as well as the needs of farmers and ranchers in central Washington,” Newhouse said.
The gray wolf has been a hot topic in Washington for a number of years.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimates the wolf population in Washington increased by 6 percent in 2016 alone.
“WDFW investigators confirmed eight cattle as being killed by wolves and none as being probable wolf-kills. Five cattle were confirmed to have been injured by wolves. Five packs (23 percent of known packs that existed at some point during the year) were involved in at least one confirmed livestock mortality,” reads a report from the WDFW. “Three wolves were removed through agency removal actions during 2017. WDFW processed two damage claims and paid a total of $3,700.00 to compensate livestock producers who experienced losses caused by wolves during 2017.”
Newhouse’s bill, if passed, directs the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to remove the gray wolf from federal protections in the 48 contiguous states, leaving out the states of Hawaii and Alaska, by the end of 2019. The measure does not have an impact on the Mexican gray wolf, which is a subspecies under the general gray wolf species umbrella.
“According to the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s best available scientific evidence, the gray wolf is not endangered and no longer warrants federal endangered species’ protection,” Newhouse said.