bulletin board
events calendar
business directory

best friend
news briefs



Gray Wolf Pushback

County will petition state to remove protections

Okanogan County Planning Director Perry Huston, left, introduced the resolution approved by county commissioners to ask Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to delist the grey wolf. Commissioner Bud Hover is on the right.

The three Okanogan County Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday evening to petition the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to remove the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protection.

The draft resolution was approved by the commissioners after hearing a staff report from county planning director Perry Huston, who said that since the state is reviewing wolf management, it’s appropriate and timely to intervene in the issue, especially given the “aggressive land acquisition” in the county by state and federal governments for endangered species habitat.

The draft resolution approved by the board of commissioners states that “substantial evidence exists” that the grey wolf now under protection here is not native to the state, that the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has, “upon request” failed to provide any supporting evidence for listing the wolf aside from its being listed by the federal government, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded the state has no critical habitat necessary for the wolf, that the wolf poses a threat to other wildlife and livestock, and that it carries a tapeworm harmful to humans.

County commissioners from Stevens, Douglas and Ferry counties told the board that their boards also would support the move. And State Sen. Bob Morton, R-Kettle Falls, told the commissioners that he’s taken the approach that if wolves come on his property and do harm, “I’m going to shoot to kill.”

Morton said a bill is being drafted for consideration in the next legislative session for dealing with the wolves but added that he has not seen the language. Asked by commissioner Bud Hover who is drafting that bill, Morton replied: “I told him I wouldn’t tell.”

Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, voiced her support for the petition. “We need to make sure folks have a tool” for dealing with wolves when that’s needed, she said.

The audience of 35, largely ranchers and farmers, was overwhelmingly in favor of delisting the wolf, complaining that it poses an economic threat to their livelihood.

Okanogan County Commissioners, from left, Jim DeTro, Bud Hover and Andrew Lampe, chair, listen to a request from Gold Creek resident Ray Campbell that the grey wolf be delisted.

Rod Haeberle of Conconully, former president of the Okanogan County Cattlemen’s Association, said, “They’re not native. Never were. This whole thing was a crock from the start.” He likened it to the Northern spotted owl controversy that he said resulted in 52 lumber mills being closed in the state, adding that it was an example of “how destructive the environmental agenda can be.”

Dan Johnson told the commissioners, “I’ve hunted in the Methow Valley for the last 40 years or more. Hunting coyotes used to be my wintertime obsession.” But in all that time, he said, “I never saw any sign of a wolf. I suspect wolves have been planted up there by who knows what.”

Commissioner Jim DeTro said he has two sworn affidavits from witnesses who say they saw wolves released in Okanogan County.

“I don’t think the wolves are in any danger of going extinct,” said Hover. “We feel the Endangered Species Act has been used inappropriately here.” Filing the petition means the state is required to respond with the scientific and legal evidence for the listing in this state, he explained. The message to the state is: if you can produce the data that it should be listed, “prove it,” he added. If it’s true that wolves are “generalists,” Hover said, “then it’s not critical that we list them here.”

The lone voice speaking up for the wolf was Jay Kehne of Omak, outreach coordinator for Conservation Northwest, who urged a move away from a “fear-based” approach to wolves. Indentifying himself as a hunter, Kehne told the commissioners it’s a waste of taxpayer money to pursue remedies “that have no legal backing or basis.” The species can only be delisted based on scientific evidence that shows it exists in enough numbers that it is no longer endangered. “We are nowhere close to those numbers of wolves in our state,” he said.

When wolves do recover in sufficient numbers, he added, his organization will support delisting and a management regime that includes fair compensation to ranchers for livestock losses, non-lethal control measures when practical, and “and an eventual fair chase hunting season.”

posted 8/3/11

Submit your comments


Wolves are terrorists! They threaten our god givin freedom!! Although last time I checked god created wolves. Seriously? Not native? Environmental agenda? Who comes up with this stuff? I have to say the article made me laugh. I respect a determined American though. Keep on fightin! United We Stand!     Submitted by Dick Parsons

"I feel very sad about the way this was handled.  It should never have happened, and now it appears that the well-being of a species of animals that was not native to this area is being put above the well-being of the people that inhabit the area.  This is being seen more and more that animals are being protected above and beyond the peoples rights.  We have a right to have control of our property and to protect our children, animals, food sources, etc.  No
animal should be held above the safety and well-being of hunam beings.  I love animals, but would not hesitate to protect my loved ones, or my pets or livestock.  It is just one more way for the government to exercise control over our God-given freedom.  If they want to control our property they should pay
our taxes."    Submitted by Lauri Jo Martin, Winthrop, WA