Seventh District lawmakers say new ‘wolf meetings’ in NE Washington a direct result of public input
When the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced earlier this year a series of statewide “wolf recovery and management” meetings for the benefit of the public, 7th District Representatives Joel Kretz and Shelly Short wondered what “public” the department was referring to. “We were pretty disgusted with the fact that somehow the department thought that having 'wolf recovery' meetings in Seattle, Olympia and Spokane would be sufficient for receiving public input on the state's wolf recovery and management efforts,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “To my knowledge, there aren't any wolves in Olympia – no four-legged kind, anyway – or downtown Seattle. I introduced a bill this year that would help rectify that injustice so that Western Washington could share in the benefits of these majestic animals. But until that happens, I think the folks who really need to weigh in on this effort are the ones who have to deal with the wolves on a near-daily basis: Those of us living in northeast Washington. I give kudos to the department for finally figuring out where wolves are located and scheduling meetings accordingly.” Kretz joined with Short, R-Addy, and other lawmakers in pressuring WDFW to hold additional meetings in northeast Washington so the department could receive firsthand input about living with the carnivores and not just anecdotal evidence from special interest groups. That pressure included actions taken by citizens living in the communities that Short and Kretz represent in the 7th Legislative District. “Our folks back home are vigilant. They have a reputation in Olympia and within state government as being very involved, very passionate and they don't take things lying down,” said Short. “We started talking to people right away through every means available: radio, e-newsletters, teleforums, letters, phone calls, Facebook – you name it. We urged folks to make sure the department knew this was not acceptable. In the end, I think it was the combined effort from the public and from elected officials that got us a new series of meetings.” The department recently announced three public meetings in northeast Washington to discuss wolf-livestock conflict management:
- Feb. 26, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in Cusick at the Cusick Community Center, 107 1st Ave.
- Feb. 27, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in Colville at the Colville Ag Trade Center, 317 West Astor Ave.
- Feb. 28, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in Okanogan at the Okanogan Public Utilities District office meeting room, 1331 2nd Ave. N.
Short and Kretz are urging residents in the area who have comments or experiences they would like to share to make every effort to attend the meeting closest to them. “We asked for these meetings to be held closer to us so that our folks could have input,” said Kretz. “We need to make sure those meetings are packed.”
###Washington State House Republican Communications