Lawmaker says tongue-in-cheek wolf bill a waste of time

State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege said the bill that Rep. Joel Kretz of Eastern Washington “filed in jest,” suggesting moving wolves to Western Washington, is a waste of legislative staff time and resources.

Van De Wege, a Sequim Democrat, said Tuesday he doubted the bill filed by Kretz, a Republican from Wauconda, would get a hearing in the House.

Ranchers in Eastern Washington are upset that wolves are killing their stock and want more done about limiting wolf populations. Tongue in cheek, Kretz lamented that “the entire citizenship of the state has not been fully able to enjoy the re-establishment of this majestic species,” suggesting moving some to the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands.

“All of you who love wolves and advocate them in the state, I want you to be able to share in the benefits of having a wolf pack,” Kretz said, as he filed House Bill 1258.

Van De Wege thought Kretz’s introduction of the bill as an outright joke was simply a waste of time.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that Joel Kretz is wasting staff time without ever planning [for the bill to go] anywhere,” Van De Wege said.

Van De Wege, along with state Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, and state Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, represents the 24th District.

The 24th District comprises Clallam and Jefferson counties and a portion of Grays Harbor County.

Officials have said wolves, which have not been seen on the North Olympic Peninsula for nearly a century, eventually could be relocated to the area — but probably not for at least a decade.

Wolves could be moved from one region to another only if the numbers exceed objectives elsewhere and after public hearings.

Van De Wege said wolves most likely would find their way to the Peninsula on their own and would then need an area-specific management plan. He does not support relocating them to the Peninsula.

“Actually moving wolves to the Peninsula — I don’t support that,” Van De Wege said.