Rep. Short’s bill to study wolf impacts on ungulate populations passes state House
With 12 of the state's 16 confirmed wolf packs living in Northeast Washington, residents continue to have significant concerns about wolf encounters with livestock, people and pets. Another concern for Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, and local hunters and small business owners is the impacts a recovering wolf population has had on the ungulates in our state, and especially Northeast Washington.
“Just as the wolf recovery plan relies on ample numbers of ungulates – deer, elk and moose – as a food source, so do many of our rural economies depend on the dollars associated with hunting these animals,” said Short. “We know that hunters are reporting less success in the field since wolf populations have grown, which means more vacancy signs at local hotels and less people eating at restaurants or buying fuel.
“With our proximity to Idaho and British Columbia, we know we're going to see more than our fair share of wolves. But understanding how the recovery plan is impacting our ungulate populations is vital to protecting our rural economies and our way of life,” said Short. “A very specific part of the recovery plan states that the local ungulate population must be adequate to support the number of wolves in the plan, yet we don't know the impacts wolves have had to date. We have circumstantial and anecdotal evidence, but not hard scientific data. This bill gets us on the road to understand the wolf recovery plan's full impact to our region.”
House Bill 1676 directs the University of Washington's Predator Ecology Lab to conduct a peer-reviewed study in certain Game Management Units to assess the state's wild ungulate population and how they have changed due to the wolf recovery plan. Short said a similar study is currently underway by the university on land owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. The new study would be carried out over the next four years.
Short's bill passed the House unanimously and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
The 105-day 2015 legislative session is scheduled to end April 26.
###Washington State House Republican Communications