There are a number of bills this year from rural legislators that propose to allow hunting of wolves and cougars. In particular three bills about wolves:
- 1107: Preparing for the epidemiological consequences of diseases related to wolf populations
- 1108: Concerning the state’s management of wolves.
- 1109: Concerning legislative review of gray wolf conservation and management.
All of these bills died because they did not pass out of committee prior to the cutoff date. They’ve generated a lot of interest and concern amongst people in district. They will not pass this year. The chairman of the committee they were referred to has scheduled a hearing on the last of the three for next week, well after the cutoff. This is a courtesy to the legislator who filed the bill and allows him to share his concern, but the bills will not pass. Ranchers have deep feelings about wolves, and part of the legislative process is making sure that everyone gets a chance to be heard. I do not support these bills.
1124 is a different issue. This bill overturns an initiative passed by the voters a few years ago that prohibited the hunting of cougars with dogs. The bill passed out of committee and is now in rules. I expect it to stay there and not come up for a vote on the floor, but this issue also generates controversy between urban people who like there to be cougars and rural people who are concerned about pets, livestock and children. There haven’t been very many cougar incidents in Washington. I do not support this bill either.