Wolves may yet howl in Washington state's Olympic National Park now that Norm Dicks, the Olympic Peninsula's influential congressman, supports the cause.
the effort hinges on a feasibility study that has yet to be funded.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the lead federal agency on wolf
recovery, is already involved in recovery efforts in the Great
Lakes, the Southwest and in the northern Rockies where wolves are
the same subspecies - the northern gray wolf - as those that once
roamed the peninsula. That, says Ed Bangs, the agency's wolf
recovery coordinator, makes wolves in the Olympics a low
Dicks' support, however, may break the
"Rarely in public life do you get a
chance to correct a historic mistake," he told 150 people at last
month's "wolf summit," a conference he co-sponsored with Defenders
of Wildlife at the Olympic Park Institute. "Persecution of the wolf
was a mistake."
Dicks, the ranking Democrat on
the House Interior Appropriations Committee, wants to fit a
feasibility study in next year's federal budget. Because the
peninsula has few farmers and ranchers, Dicks says, the issue is
far less controversial than it was in the Yellowstone
Still, some landowners worry about wolves
causing restrictions on private land. "This is a bum deal," Clallam
County Commissioner Phil Kitchel said at the summit. "I think it
will happen no matter what local people think."
* John Rosapepe