Rep. Carolyn Eslick pushes for better community notification requirements by state Department of Fish and Wildlife

A bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan, that would ensure the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) does a better job of notifying the public before relocating wildlife received a public hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Thursday, Jan.11.

Eslick’s bill would require the agency to alert a community’s elected leaders and hold a public hearing before moving wildlife into a new location within the state.

“People need to know when wildlife is transferred into their area,” said Eslick. “As it stands now, public hearings often happen hundreds of miles away from the communities most impacted by the relocation of these animals.”

The 39th District lawmaker says the change would be especially helpful for residents living in rural and mountainous areas of the state.

“People living in small towns can’t always drive to the city for a public hearing. These hearings need to happen near the areas where the animals are being relocated,” continued Eslick. “The WDFW needs to do the right kind of outreach to ensure rural areas get an opportunity to have a voice in these decisions.”

Jason Miller, mayor for the Town of Concrete, had this to say about Eslick’s bill.

“It’s logical that the district to which significant numbers of any species are proposed to be transferred, relocated, or introduced should be kept informed of the intent to do so,” said Miller. “That’s why I’m a little confused that we’re spending time and taxpayer money debating and discussing this bill, which is apparently necessary in order to compel certain state authorities to act in the best interest of all their constituents.”

Eslick’s bill would require WDFW to provide at least a 30-day notice prior to the date of the public hearing. The bill also instructs the agency to provide a brief explanation of the proposed action, species and estimated number of animals, general location where the animals would be released and potential range they would roam.

House Bill 2276 is scheduled for an executive session in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources Thursday, Jan. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

The legislative session began Jan. 8 and is scheduled for 60 consecutive days in Olympia.


Washington State House Republican Communications