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15th District lawmaker questions state-approved tribal wolf hunts

As the Colville tribes prepare for the authorized taking of up to nine gray wolves within their reservation boundaries, one Washington state lawmaker wonders why this effective lethal management tool is not being made available to all Washington state private property owners.

Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, sent a letter last week to Phil Anderson, the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), asking for clarification and documentation regarding the tribal hunts.

"It's beyond disappointing that we had to learn about the gray wolf hunt from newspaper articles," said Taylor, a rancher from the state's 15th Legislative District.

He said, "The Department (of Fish and Wildlife) knows of our intense interest in this issue and the level of concern our constituents have when it comes to the sensitive nature of living with the newly-introduced gray wolves. But we'll move on from here and try to find some answers as to why this management tool is good for one group of Washington residents but apparently not another."

Taylor's letter to the Department of Fish and Wildlife specifically requests the following:

1. A detailed account of discussions, negotiations or other conversations the department has had with the Colville tribes regarding the hunt;

2. Any and all correspondence, email and other communications between WDFW and the Colville tribes related to the referenced wolf hunts; and

3. A written timeline of events leading up to the Colville tribes authorizing wolf hunting and WDFW involvement.

Taylor said he's not taking issue with the fact that the tribes are being allowed to kill up to nine gray wolves within their reservation boundaries. His concern is that if the Colville tribes have concluded - with the state's blessing - that lethal management is a necessary wolf management tool, why are non-tribal ranchers and private property owners required to take rigorous, proactive non-lethal steps to avoid wolf/livestock conflicts.

"I want to be very clear, here," said Taylor. "I wholly support their efforts to control the gray wolf population. Yet, the state prohibits private property owners from doing the same.

"Why? What dialogue has taken place between the state and the tribes; what data has been presented to the state from the tribes that could help the state reach the same conclusion for our ranchers and private property owners?

"I just want to make sure we're all playing by the same set of rules and that game management tools being made available to one segment of the state's population are available to all Washington citizens," concluded Taylor.

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