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This September 2012 photo shows a calf whose owner said it was bitten by a wolf, at the Diamond M Ranch in Laurier, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
By Jim Camden
OLYMPIA – A new board will look for ways to keep wolves from preying on northeast Washington livestock without killing them, but people involved in wolf control, lethal or not, won’t have their personal information available to the public.
Two separate bills involving the state’s efforts to counteract the effects of a growing population of wolves in northern tier counties were signed into law Monday.
One new law sets up a special account to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that want to develop nonlethal methods to control wolves in Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry and Okanogan counties.
The account will be controlled by the state Agriculture Department director, who must consult with an advisory committee made up of one member of the conservation district in each of the four counties. No state tax money will be appropriated for the fund, but the advisory board members can seek public and private money for the grants.
Another law offers protection for people involved in wolf control programs. Legislators from northeast Washington said they’d heard reports from constituents of receiving threats after filing reports of wolf attacks on livestock, pets or people and requests for lethal or nonlethal controls.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife monitors wolf activity in the state and lists on its website all reports of interactions with wolves. With large bipartisan majorities, the Legislature approved an exemption to the state’s Public Records Act that keeps certain information about those reports from being made public for the next five years.
Exempted from the act until 2022 are any information that would identify a person who reports a wolf attack; the name, address or legal descriptions of the owner of any pet or livestock attacked; and the name of any department employee or contractor who responds to a report of a wolf attack.