Prosecutors Desk 12-23-2012

Not long ago I attended a meeting of the Cattlemen's Association. The purpose of the meetings was to talk about the presence and impact of wolves in Stevens County. The meeting was an informational meeting, beginning with a presentation by Sheriff Kendle Allen who presented slides and results of his investigation of wolf kills in Stevens County. This was followed by a presentation from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. They then answered some questions from the audience.

It is clear that there are no answers that will be acceptable to all people on this issue. There are competing values at work. The agricultural people on one side who see the threat to their livestock and lives and on the other the folks who believe there is value to the presence of wolves in the eco system in and of itself. When it comes to wolves, the latter outnumber the former.

The presence of wolves and their protection is a policy which has been decided by the legislature, which is a reflection of what the people of Washington want. They have passed these laws. State officers are sworn to uphold state law and they will do their duty as they must. Like it or not, the people of Washington want these animals here and until that changes, wolves will be protected and any killing of them will receive close scrutiny.

I am frequently asked to state what my position is in this regard. I answer that the office will look at any situation that is brought to us through an investigation of a Law Enforcement agency which alleges that a crime has been committed in Stevens County. That is what we do. We will look at each case by itself. I will not make any policy that we will always handle this or that matter this or that way. Every situation is different and because of that each situation must be judged individually.

That being said, I believe a person has a right to protect their property and their life. In my judgment, if someone is acting reasonably to protect their property or their life from an immediate threat, I do not think I will have any interest in filing charges against him or her. But, if someone decides that the mere existence of wolves is a threat to their property or life and they go into the woods to hunt and kill them, that is an entirely different matter.

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