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Thursday morning's headlines

Denver Bryan
Some 5,500 gray wolves are being removed from federal protection in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes. Fish and Wildlife Service officials also plan to review the animal's status in the Pacific Northwest and the desert Southwest. [UPDATE below]

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Former U.W. Employee Charged With Embezzling
  • 13 Sent to Redmond Hospital After Hazmat Scare
  • 5,500 Gray Wolves Off Endangered Species List
  • Costco Earnings Up 12 Percent


Former Hospital Employee Accused of $250,000 Theft

A former University of Washington Medical Center employee accused of embezzling more than $250,000 from the Seattle hospital has been charged with 19 theft counts.

The Seattle Times' Jennifer Sullivan reports that 38-year-old Elisha Gustav Lang was an executive assistant, working at the UW from July 2007 until he was fired in May 2010.

In charging papers filed recently in King County Superior Court, UW police Detective Donald Greany says he started looking at the case a year ago after university auditors told him Lang was suspected of misusing his UW corporate credit card.

Court documents say there were nearly 1,900 card charges totaling more than $200,000. Lang is also accused of misusing a UW travel account.

The detective says the case has led to "systemwide changes" in how corporate cards are handled.

It was not immediately known if Lang was represented by a lawyer.


Redmond Hazmat Scare Sends 13 to Hospital

Thirteen people were taken to a Redmond hospital with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday following a strange smell that made them sick at work.

Redmond Police spokesman Jim Bove told KOMO-TV that crews took air samples at Healthpoint Community Health Center.

Bove says they have not found anything suspicious or hazardous but the building was evacuated as a safety precaution and an industrial hygienist will be doing more testing.


Gray Wolves Go Gack to State Control

[UPDATED 9:21 A.M. Environmental groups are challenging as unconstitutional Congressional legislation that took gray wolves off the endangered species list.

Two lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, as control over more than 1,300 wolves was turned over to state authorities in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah.]

The Obama administration says it is lifting endangered species act protections for 5,500 wolves in eight states in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes.

The move will turn control over the predators to state wildlife agencies. Public hunts for hundreds of wolves already are planned this fall in Idaho and Montana.

Western lawmakers attached a rider to the federal budget bill mandating the move for 1,300 wolves in the Northern Rockies. The rider blocked legal challenges and marked the first time Congress has stripped a species of protections.

"To be sure, not everyone will be satisfied with today's announcement," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "Wolves have long been a highly charged issue. These delistings are possible because the species is recovered in these regions. That is a remarkable milestone for an iconic American species."

It came amid political pressure from agriculture and sporting groups to curb wolf attacks on livestock and big game.

Federal officials said they now plan to review the gray wolf's status in the Pacific Northwest and the desert Southwest.


Costco Revenue Figures Beat Analysts' Forecasts

Issaquah-based Costco's revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 12 percent in April, beating analysts' expectations of an 8.9 percent increase. The wholesale club operator said today that its results were hurt by a selling period that was one day shorter than last year's, partly offset by shoppers buying goods leading up to the Easter holiday.