OLYMPIA, Wash. — Central Washington lawmakers are pleased with the state Fish and Wildlife Commission’s new emergency rule allowing the killing of wolves caught in the act of killing livestock.

Previously, livestock owners were required to obtain a state permit to kill gray wolves attacking their animals.

“I have heard repeatedly from my constituents about their concerns with a great expansion of wolves,” Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, said in a news release. “People should have the right to protect their livestock and pets on their own property.”

The new rule, approved Friday, requires property owners to report the incident within 24 hours, surrender the wolf carcass to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and provide investigators access to the property where the wolf was killed. If the killing was not justified, the killer of the wolf may be prosecuted for unlawful taking of endangered wildlife, the rule said.

“This emergency rule restores common sense to this threat and will give all parties time to find a solution that is agreeable for all,” Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, said in a statement.

Reps. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, and David Taylor, R-Moxee, also issued statements supporting the rule change.

Chandler co-sponsored House Bill 1191, which would have allowed property owners the authority granted to them under the rule change made Friday. Neither that bill nor its companion, Senate Bill 5187, were able to clear both houses this session. The Senate bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

The rule can remain in effect for up to eight months. The panel also decided to pursue a permanent rule allowing the killing of a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock or pets — a process that will take months and could result in a rule different from the emergency provision.

Commissioners noted there have been recent and escalating reports of wolf attacks on pets and livestock, particularly in northeastern Washington, where the bulk of the state’s estimated 100 gray wolves are located. Wolf numbers have grown rapidly in recent years as the animals migrate to Washington from other states.

The state last year had to wipe out a pack of wolves known as the Wedge Pack that was preying on cattle.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this blog post.

Contact Mike Faulk at 509-577-7675 or mfaulk@yakimaherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mike_Faulk.