(STAFF REPORTS/Chewelah Independent)
MORE COLLARS : State rep pushes for radio collaring of at least two wolves in every pack with conflict…
Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, and the Republican Caucus sent out a press release last week announcing legislation – House Bill 2906 – introduced by the District 7 state lawmker that would direct WDFW to collar at least two wolves in every pack in conflict with livestock. He said that current the department is encouraged but not required to radio collar at least one wolf in every pack in the state that has been confirmed.
“We’ve invested a lot of time and money in our nonlethal methods,” said Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda. “But we need the right strategy in place with active communication in order for it to work. We need to be less reactionary and more proactive.
“Ultimately, my bill is about focusing on the problem wolf packs, knowing where they are and having that information communicated to those who need to know,” said Kretz.
“If we want nonlethal solutions to work, we have to know where the wolves are.”
It is a bipartisan bill, Kretz announced, as half of the twelve reps signing onto the bill are Democrat.
“There’s a lot of talk about nonlethal measures, but how can we have an effective nonlethal plan when we don’t know where the wolves are?” Kretz said. “There used to be a functioning system where certain wolf locations were known and that information could be relayed to range riders or ranchers. But nonlethal and lethal measures only work when the department has a strategy in place and communicates with ranchers. Right now, they don’t and they aren’t.”
According to the Capital Press, 14 wolves in eight packs are collared. This from a WDFW count of 126 wolves in 27 packs as of 2018.
WDFW policy lead Donny Martorello told the Capital Press that the department wants to have more collars on wolves but that trapping gets difficult as some wolves have learned to avoid traps. They also only set traps during the spring and summer because a trapped wolf could freeze to death in the winter. WDFW does us a helicopter to find packs during the winter but this can be hindered by weather.
Collars have been used to confirm depredations in the past and are important in locating wolves if WDFW needs to lethally remove them.
The Capital Press also reported Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Nielsen in support of more collars, saying they were “absolutely necessary.”