OLYMPIA — State Rep. Joel Kretz says if western Washington legislators want to protect wolves in the eastern part of the state, they should have some of the animals in their neighborhood.

In a jab at Bainbridge Island Democratic Rep. Sherry Appleton, whose bill would prevent lethal wolf removal by the state, the Wauconda Republican introduced a bill on Friday that would create a gray wolf sanctuary in her neck of the woods.

“With this bill, we can deliver ‘em right to them,” Kretz says. “I’ve had lots of offers from the 7th District. If you need my stock trailer, I’ll bring a load of wolves.”

Kretz, a full-time rancher, has long opposed increased protection for the gray wolf, which is considered endangered in eastern Washington by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency has carried out wolf kills in instances where the animals have attacked livestock, even eradicating an entire pack in Ferry County in 2016. There are an estimated 120 gray wolves in the state, decades after they were hunted nearly to extinction.

It’s not the first time Kretz has tried such a stunt. He sponsored a bill in 2013 to release wolves on Whidbey Island, and has said he may offer legislation to take the wolves off the state’s endangered species list altogether. 

None of those measures are likely to pass a Democratic-controlled House and Senate — but Brian Blake, chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, said neither are Appleton’s.

Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013 

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