Washington wolf management is the best in the West

Washington wolf management is the best in the West

Conservation Northwest / May 19, 2022 / Wolves

Washington is the best place to live if you are a wolf in the western United States, according to a review of the data conducted by Conservation Northwest staff.

We summarized intentional human-caused wolf mortality over the past five years (2017-2021)1 in Washington2, Oregon, and the Northern Rocky Mountain States of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

Graphic depicting human-caused wolf mortality rates in the Western U.S

Wolves in Washington have an average intentional human-caused mortality rate of 3.8 percent of the population. Oregon was a close second at 4.5 percent, while the three Rocky Mountain states regularly killed 25 to 35 percent of their wolf populations each year. With the implementation of increasingly aggressive hunting policies in Idaho and Montana in 2021, these numbers will likely climb higher in 2022.   

We are especially proud of the decrease in wolf deaths from lethal control due to livestock conflict in Washington. Only five wolves were killed, contributing to the low overall human-caused loss of about two percent of the population in each of the last two years. Conservation Northwest worked hard with the legislature in 2020 and 2021 to increase funding to send more range riders to Washington’s hotspot in the Kettle Range. We are also a member of the Wolf Advisory Group, which provides guidance to improve range riding quality. These efforts seem to be paying off. 

Carpenter Ridge Wolf Pack. Photo by WDFW

If you listen to the public comments concerning the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wolf Livestock Interaction Protocol, you might think this state treats wolves intolerantly like our neighbors to the east. This just is not the case!   

It’s important to understand and support successful approaches to keep livestock depredations low, and so far, Washington is the best demonstration of tactics that work.   

We also need to keep learning and adapting, as things can change quickly. But, for now, we can be proud that Washington’s wolves are relatively unscathed and on the path toward recovery. This success is thanks to our state’s steady funding, a majority of ranchers being willing to deploy proactive techniques such as range riders, and the work of local non-profits and WDFW staff. 

For more information on wolf management, check out our page on Coexisting with Wolves.

A wolf pack walks a ridgeline in Yellowstone National Park. Photo Milehightraveler