Kretz bill would mandate radio collars on wolves in problem packs

“If we want nonlethal solutions to work, we have to know where the wolves are,”

Rep. Joel Kretz. R-7th District

OLYMPIA – Legislation introduced in Olympia this week seeks to maximize nonlethal methods of dealing with problem wolves by doing a better job of tracking wolf packs that have been in conflict.

“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.

Rep. Joel Kretz (7th District)
Rep. Joel Kretz (7th District)

“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.”

His proposal, House Bill 2906, directs the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to prioritize the use of radio collars as a tool to monitor wolves that have been in conflict with livestock and humans. His bill states:

“The department must radio collar at least two wolves in every pack in conflict. The department is encouraged, but not required, to radio collar at least one wolf in every pack in the state that has been confirmed by the department.”

“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?” said Kretz. “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.”

Kretz’s bill has significant bipartisan support with half of the twelve representatives signing onto the bill being Democrats.

The bill was sent to the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The 60-day 2020 legislative session is scheduled to end March 12.