Coexisting With Wolves

Washington wolf recovery talking points

July 2020 update: Getting to fewer conflicts between wolves and livestock in Washington

Conservation Northwest believes Washington can be the state where wolf recovery, conservation, and management work in the long run; for people, wolves and all the Northwest’s wildlife. We’re committed to the goal of long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves alongside thriving local communities.

Our key objective to achieve this goal is to get maximum effort to deterring conflicts with wolves. We pursue this by working in the policy arena—through collaboration with other stakeholders on the state’s Wolf Advisory Group and in the state legislature to secure continued funding for proactive deterrence work—and by working directly with ranchers through our Range Rider Pilot Project and other efforts.

The result of maximum conflict deterrence is minimum conflict, not no conflict, unfortunately. We know we’re unlikely to prevent wolf-livestock conflict entirely, but we can make it less common.

A range rider in northeast Washington.

Read more in this perspective from our Executive Director: Wolves, Collaboration, and Coexistence. More info on wolf recovery is available here, and on our Range Rider Project with local ranchers. 


Or read our blogs on Understanding wolf-livestock science, Understanding wolf behavior and Tips for hiking in wolf country!


You can also download our new one-pager with talking points on wolves.

Public resources shared by all

2008 photo of a Lookout Pack wolf in Washington’s North Cascades. Photo: CNW

Outside national parks, designated wilderness areas and certain wildlife refuges, America’s public lands are managed under a multiple-use mandate—including for livestock grazing, sustainable natural resource use and outdoor recreation as well as wildlife habitat. Wolves and other wildlife also routinely roam across private lands, in some cases relying on it for habitat, particularly winter range. 

We believe conservationists, animal advocates, hunters, recreationists, ranchers, Native American nations and other wildlife stakeholders are best served by seeking common ground and working together towards win-win solutions. To collaborate in this manner requires recognizing and accepting the diverse values our wildlife and wildlands provide for all parties.

Reducing conflict by working with communities

Conflict avoidance measures, information sharing and expert resources are offered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Conservation Northwest to ranchers and farmers across the state. Conflict avoidance methods like range riders, guard dogs and fladry can work well, but they aren’t a cure all.

We recognize that as wolf populations grow in Washington, under

the state’s Wolf Management Plan animals that persistently prey on livestock may need to be removed. This is a fact of responsible wolf recovery, and though it can be heartrending, it won’t stop wolves from flourishing in our region over the long run if removals are not excessive.

Washington’s wildlife belongs to all the people of the state regardless of where they roam, or where the people live. When it comes to wolf management, we the citizens also deserve timely and accurate information on the circumstances that lead up to any lethal removals, and assurances that ranchers did everything they could to prevent conflicts in the first place.

News on wolf coexistence

We recommend these talking points on Washington’s wolf management:

  • Wolves are a keystone predator that plays a valuable and important role in the health of our ecosystems. We strongly support wolf recovery, and value their place in our region and our environment.
  • Wildlife is a public resource and belongs to all the people of the State. Whether one supports or opposes wolf recovery in Washington, the poaching of any wildlife is an unacceptable abuse of our natural resources. On both private and public land, all wildlife is a public trust in the care of all our state’s citizens.
  • We understand the need to address and help resolve conflicts between wolves and the people who live and work in Washington’s wolf country. We want to help them successfully coexist with predators back on the landscape. And we accept that at times lethal removal may be required for responsible wolf recovery.
  • It hurts to see wolves killed, and especially to sanction it. But our goal has always been the sustainable recovery of wolves to their ecological role in the state, not to protect each individual wolf or to promote the species in some mythical way.
  • The loss of some wolves to conflict can be heart-wrenching, but it’s an expected component of a balancing act between people, livestock and predators sharing the same space. And it won’t halt the comeback of these iconic canines in our state.
  • It’s the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s responsibility to safeguard wolf recovery in Washington. We the public deserve clear, transparent and timely communications when it comes to wolf management. Especially before the lethal removal of wolves or other endangered species.
  • Range riders, fladry, guard dogs and hazing can reduce risk of conflict if undertaken with diligence. Either independently or in partnership with the state or conservation organizations, ranchers must be thoroughly using these tools to avoid wildlife conflicts if they knowingly operate in wolf territory.
  • We also support efforts by state, federal and university researchers to better understand the impact wolves have or do not have on deer, elk, moose and other ungulate populations. Predator recovery and management needs to be successful for all wildlife, not just wolves and other predators. Solid scientific data helps make that possible.
  • Coexistence, social tolerance and healthy wolf populations are all possible in Washington. We remain committed to the long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves alongside thriving local communities.
  • We want long term wolf recovery to work for people, wolves and all of Washington’s wildlife!
Hanging fladry around calving pasture in Teanaway Valley for our Range Rider Pilot Project. These waving flags can temporarily reduce conflicts. Photo: Conservation Northwest