Good news for Washington wolves in state’s annual report

Good news for Washington wolves in state’s annual report

Conservation Northwest / Apr 15, 2022 / Restoring Wildlife, Wolves

Washington’s annual wolf report is out, and it has good news for wolf recovery.

New data shows Washington’s wolf populations increased by 16 percent in 2021

Here are the essential numbers from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW): 

A gray wolf in north-central Washington. Photo: Craig Monnette, used with permission. All Rights Reserved.
  • A minimum of 206 wolves in the state at the end of 2021, compared to 178 in 2020.
  • 19 breeding pairs in 2021, compared to 16 in 2020.
  • Four new packs were formed, including a new one in the North Cascades south of Lake Chelan (Shady Pass).
  • Four breeding pairs in the North Cascades recovery region for two years in a row, which is an important step toward meeting recovery goals.
  • Evidence from a collared wolf of consistent residency in the South Cascades may indicate or lead to an established pack this year.

It was also a good year in terms of low intentional, non-Tribal mortality. Only two wolves were lethally removed due to wolf-livestock conflict, while six others died from either vehicle collisions (4) or other circumstances still under investigation (2).

For the first time in eight years, there was no lethal removal in Northeast Washington, and total livestock depredations were the lowest reported since 2012. 

At 22 animals, tribal hunting mortality was the largest it has ever been. All harvest occurred on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (South Half) or the Spokane Reservation. No wolves were killed in the portion of the Colville National Forest referred to as the North Half of the Colville Reservation, on which the Colville Tribe has hunting rights but not land ownership.

Look for a forthcoming blog from us soon on our assessment of the success of proactive wolf-livestock conflict deterrence work over the past two years in the Kettle Mountains. We will also discuss the overall success of Washington’s approach and low mortality compared to other states.  In the meantime, you can read our comments on WDFW’s proposed Wolf-Livestock interaction rule.

Learn more about our work in wolf conservation.


map of wolf packs in Washington state
Known wolf packs and single wolf territories in Washington in 2021, not including unconfirmed or suspected
packs or border packs from other states and provinces. (Map courtesy of WDFW)