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Legislation pending that could alter state's wolf management efforts
As Washington's gray wolf population continues to grow, so do concerns from those living in the areas of the state most affected by their return.

"There's two sides to this issue, and it kind of boils down to either you like them or you don't," said Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, who co-sponsored several wolf-related bills this legislative session.

Seven bills relating to Washington's gray wolves have been introduced to the 2015 Legislature, with four surviving for continuing consideration in their respective chamber this week. Together they could have a dramatic affect on Washington's wolf-recovery policy.

Much of the wolf debate stems from an uneven distribution of wolves across the state. Ten of Washington's 14 wolf packs reside in the state's northeast corner, and the two largest recent attacks on livestock have both occurred there in Stevens County. While Washington is on track to meet the state's total wolf population objectives, there's a long way to go before geographic distribution goals are met.

Although wolves are considered endangered at both the federal and state levels, the abundance of wolves in northeastern Washington has prompted a demand that the Department of Fish and Wildlife alter its classification of "endangered" to reflect an animal's presence in a region rather than in the state as a whole. If wolves were reclassified this way, they would only be considered legally endangered in two-thirds of the state.

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