Wolf Photographed Between Leavenworth and Stevens Pass

Wolf Photographed Between Leavenworth and Stevens Pass

Conservation Northwest / May 21, 2015 / Wildlife Monitoring

Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project helps document wolf recovery and other rare Northwest wildlife

State and federal biologists have confirmed it: a remote camera photo captured by Conservation Northwest’s Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project northwest of Leavenworth is indeed a gray wolf.

It’s the first officially documented in the area since wolves began to recolonize Washington state in the late 2000s.

“This exciting discovery shows that wolves are continuing to naturally regain their historic range in the Pacific Northwest,” said Chase Gunnell, Conservation Northwest spokesman.

“It underscores the importance of ongoing work by Conservation Northwest, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other partners to spread information about coexisting with these iconic predators. That work includes sharing the value of wolves for healthy wild ecosystems, gathering accurate data on impacts to deer, elk and other wildlife species, and furthering collaborative efforts that are proving successful at preventing conflicts between wolves, livestock and domestic animals in our state.”

The photos were taken before sunrise on February 16th, 2015. The location, known as the Chiwaukum Mountains on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in the Cascade Mountains, is roughly 75 miles northeast of Seattle. The site is between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth, south of Highway 2.

“We are always pleased to get photos of rare species; this is the primary goal of the project,” said Alison Huyett, the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Manager and a Conservation Associate with Conservation Northwest. “Not only do photos like this one influence management on the ground, but it also highlights the fact that, under guidance of researchers and biologists, citizens can contribute to science in an impactful and effective way.”

Biologists believe the animal is likely a dispersing wolf that traveled into or through the area. An established wolf pack is not believed to currently exist in the Stevens Pass, Chiwaukum or Leavenworth areas, though wolves have likely moved through the region previously to establish the Teanaway and Wenatchee packs to the south.

While hikers, backpackers and others recreating in wolf country should take some sensible precautions just as they would around bears and other large wildlife, including properly storing food and keeping dogs on leash, wild wolves pose no serious threat to humans.

In the photos the wolf, a gray and white animal with a “classic” coat, is seen sniffing and lying in the snow at a camera station set out to capture photos of wolverines, another elusive carnivore making a comeback in the Cascades. Confirmed wolf tracks were also found within the same area.

Volunteers helping science and conservation

The find also demonstrates the value of the citizen-science monitoring program, which previously made headlines by capturing photos of the first wolf pups born back in Washington in nearly a century. The project has also photographed and documented valuable scientific data on wolverines in Washington and Canada lynx in British Columbia.

The Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, led by Conservation Northwest in coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness Awareness School and other partners, uses citizen-scientist volunteers to better inform conservation programs and priorities in the Pacific Northwest.

By training hikers, climbers, backcountry skiers, and other outdoor recreationists in tracking, wildlife biology and remote camera use, volunteers are able to support ongoing wildlife research efforts in the Cascades and the Kettle Range of northeast Washington and southeast British Columbia. Project efforts typically cover geographic areas outside those where professional research efforts are ongoing, adding to and strengthening the work of agencies, biologists, researchers and conservation organizations.

More information about the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project and how to adopt-a-camera team or become a volunteer can be found online or in a new video on YouTube. Photos and full scientific reports on each wildlife monitoring season are also available.

“By capturing wolf, wolverine and lynx photos, searching for elusive North Cascades grizzly bears, and tracking animals near the new wildlife crossings at Snoqualmie Pass, volunteers and staff with the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project are informing decisions that wildlife depend on,” said Gunnell.