Bill would create wolf sanctuary on Bainbridge Island

A gray wolf.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
A gray wolf.



OLYMPIA - In response to one Western Washington lawmaker's recent bill to completely ban the lethal removal of gray wolves, state Rep. Joel Kretz is proposing legislation to create a wolf sanctuary in her legislative district on Bainbridge Island.

Kretz, R-Wauconda, said his legislation seeks to ease some of the burden and turmoil his constituents are dealing with as they experience the effects of wolf recovery firsthand.

“It always amazes me when legislators with no skin in the game, who live hundreds of miles away surrounded and protected by water, have the gall and gumption to dictate how the rest of us can or cannot protect ourselves, our loved ones and our animals,” said Kretz. “So, in the spirit of the 'One Washington' they like to espouse, let's go ahead and relocate some of our wolves to the cozy confines of Bainbridge Island.

"I'm sure the gray wolves will seek to placidly coexist with the dogs, cats, horses, sheep, people and other peaceful animals on the island. That way, when citizens and elected officials from Bainbridge Island seek to dictate their whims to us, they at least have some experience and knowledge to back up their edicts," he said.

Kretz's bill, House Bill 1639, would create the state's first gray wolf sanctuary on Bainbridge Island. His bill also provides guidance on when the state may use lethal removal of wolves on the island, specifically limiting such removal only after four dogs, four cats or two children have been killed.

“In Northeast Washington we've got the majority of the state's wolves, yet it seems we have the least amount of say in how to deal with problem wolves and the impacts they have on our rural ranching and farming economies,” said Kretz. “It just seemed natural to flip that a bit and maybe send some wolves back to a location where folks who don't have to deal with wolves sure seem to have a lot to say about 'em. We're more than willing to share the ones we have with folks in Western Washington who are perhaps more able to appreciate the gray wolf in all its apex predatory glory.”

“I suppose you could call it a 'put up or shut up' moment,” he said. “It's possible there'll be some backbone in Olympia with some legislators finally putting up. I doubt it; but you never know. Talk's cheap. Let's see if all the online commentators, would-be legislators and animal experts help us get this legislation across the finish line so all of Washington can partake in the gray wolf experience.”

Kretz introduced his bill in direct response to Rep. Sherry Appleton's, D-Poulsbo, House Bill 1045 which bans lethal removal of gray wolves, even if all the parameters and requirements set by the Wolf Advisory Group are met.

“We have a lot of good people on both sides of this issue, with more skin in the game than you can imagine, who have spent hundreds of hours working on solutions to the wolf problem,” said Kretz. “And with one fell swoop from on high, the legislator from the 23rd District could potentially undo a lot of progress we've made. I'm trying to keep the sides together, engaged, working on some semblance of trust. Her bill threatens all of that and just encourages folks in my district to pack it in and take matters into their own hands – lethally.”

Kretz's bill has been sent to the House Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee for further consideration.

The 105-day 2019 legislative session is scheduled to end April 28.



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