Bill to allow owners to retrieve cattle in wildland fires

YAKIMA — The Washington Legislature has approved a bill that would allow livestock owners to enter wildfire zones to retrieve their animals, provided they don’t interfere with firefighting operations.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported House Bill 2925 is now before Gov. Jay Inslee, who has until March 30 to take action. An Inslee spokeswoman says the governor will decide whether to sign the bill closer to that deadline.

Rep. Tom Dent, a Moses Lake Republican and rancher, introduced the bill. Dent says he knows of colleagues who have lost livestock in wildfires and wants to ensure that cattlemen can take care of their animals.

The bill says livestock owners and their employees assume responsibility for what happens to them in the fire zone.

West Valley Fire Chief Dave Leitch says allowing cattlemen into a wildfire zone potentially increases the danger, but said it can work if everyone communicates.

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