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Washington state wolf bills floated

OLYMPIA — Ranchers from across the state came to Olympia Jan. 29 to meet with their legislators and address wolves and other issues vital to their livelihoods.
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Parks had four pieces of wolf-related legislation on its agenda, and a couple of dozen cattlemen sat in on the public hearing.

Tyler Cox, who raises cattle in Walla Walla County, was one who brought testimony to the hearing. After listening to the merits of ranchers killing predators or being reimbursed for livestock losses, Cox said: “We don’t want payment. We don’t want to kill wolves. We want to sell calves.”

His situation is complicated, he said, by the pack that roams his southeast corner of the state and dens just across the state line in Oregon.

“The wolves have dual citizenship,” he said. “There’s no clear answer when I have trouble with an Oregon wolf in Washington.”

The number of wolves in the state has grown dramatically in the past year. Dave Ware, game division manager at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the legislators the number of packs has grown from five in 2011 to eight in 2012, with three additional unconfirmed packs. The total number of wolves has grown from 27 to at least 51, and possibly as many as 101…

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