Washington’s wolf population grew in 2014

Washington’s wolf population grew in 2014

Conservation Northwest / Mar 09, 2015 /

New survey results released on March 6th, 2015 by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) showWashington’s wolf population is now at least 68 wolves, up from a minimum of 52 wolves confirmed at the end of 2013. We had at least 16 wolf packs and five successful breeding pairs at the end of 2014.

The four new wolf packs identified in 2014 – Goodman Meadows, Profanity Peak, Tucannon, and Whitestone – were discovered east of the Cascades, where all of the state’s other wolf packs are located. No wolf packs or breeding pairs have yet been documented in the South Cascades/Northwest Coast recovery region. The state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan defines a pack as two or more wolves traveling together in winter.

Unfortunately, at least ten Washington wolves died in 2014. Three were confirmed killed by poachers, three died of natural causes, two died of unknown causes, one was hit by a car and a breeding female was killed last summer during an effort by WDFW to stop members of the Huckleberry Pack from preying on sheep in Stevens County. Another wolf, the “Ruby Creek Female”, was accepted for care by Wolf Haven International after it was found living among domestic animals near the town of Ione.

Gray wolves, all but eliminated from western states in the last century, are now recovering under legal protections in several states. Wolves are protected under Washington law throughout the state and under federal law in the western two-thirds of the state.

Because limited snow in late 2014 hampered surveying efforts, it’s believed that the actual Washington wolf count is somewhat larger than the 68 animals that were confirmed.

We’re excited to hear that Washington’s wolves are continuing their natural recovery despite some setbacks last year. 

As our state’s wolf numbers grow, the need for enforcement and self-policing to combat poaching, as well as the continued adoption of conflict avoidance methods by livestock operators, is going to become even more essential in order to meet statewide wolf recovery goals and achieve successful coexistence.

Conservation Northwest is committed to helping implement effective strategies to reduce conflicts between wolves, livestock and people. We’re also supportive of studies to better understand the impacts wolves are having or not having on our state’s important deer, elk and moose herds.

Our goal is for Washington to be the state where wolf recovery works; for people, wolves and all our native wildlife. With hard work and collaboration, that goal is still achievable.