The 1 million acres of Olympic National Park could sustain as many as 56 gray wolves, says a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. Yet even though the peninsula provides ample prey and habitat, no wolves will wander the park soon.


The obstacle is Washington Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, says Gerry Ring Erickson of Defenders of Wildlife. "He says he won't fund anything for the foreseeable future and there is little chance that anything will pass." Other barriers are securing funding for an environmental impact statement and mobilizing community support.


Olympic Peninsula locals aren't in agreement about bringing back the wolves, a species absent for six decades. "We can't live with wolves," says resident Marilyn Lewis, who raises cattle and horses on property bordering the northern tip of the park. "There is a reason that we eradicated them in the beginning. They are not the delightful little animals that people think they are."


Supporters of wolves say they're needed to restore an ecological balance on the peninsula. They also hope their presence in the wild will bring in tourist dollars.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report can be found at www.r1.fws.gov/text/wolves.html.


* Juniper Davis