(OLYMPIA)– State Rep. Kristine Lytton has just been given the U.S. Humane Society Legislator of the Year Award for successfully brokering a resolution to years of conflict between Washington ranchers and the gray wolves that began returning to the state two decades ago.
The Anacortes Democrat shares the award with Bainbridge Island Sen. Christine Rolfes. The goal of their work was to find non-lethal solutions to the expansion of the wolf populations, solutions that could assure ranchers and other rural landowners that their concerns for their livestock, pets, and livelihoods were not being ignored by lawmakers.
“This was quite a challenge,” said Lytton, who serves as vice chair of the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. “On the one hand, a healthy ranching industry is one of the keys to Washington’s economy. And on the other is the legitimate belief that predators, as frightening as they may be, are a necessary part of our western ecosystem.
“So our aim, as we worked with lawmakers from both sides of the Cascades, and from both parties, was to find a win-win solution. Livestock owners need to be reimbursed for losses, we need to find effective methods for minimizing those losses, and we also have to avoid driving wolves back toward extinction. Time will tell, but it looks like we are on the right track, and I’m honored that the U.S. Humane Society has chosen to recognize our efforts.”
In addition to her work on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lytton is a member of five other standing House committees, including Appropriations, Education, Finance and Rules, and is deputy majority floor leader of the House.
She represents the 40th legislative district, which includes all of San Juan County and significant population centers in Skagit and Whatcom counties.