Wolves are On the Rise in Washington and WDFW Needs Your Help
According to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the wolf population statewide grew 16% from 2021 to 2022, and stands at approximately 206. There are also currently 33 known wolf packs in the state. Though that number in growth is a bit below the annual state average of 25% since numbers began being kept, beginning in 2008.
However, even with increasing cases of livestock depredations increasing, the number of wolves killed in 2022 was just 27. Though not all of those mortalities were attributable to farmers and land owners because of attacks on livestock.
Northeastern Washington is home to a majority of the wolves in the state, but it is generally acknowledged that they have spread through the state. WDFW have been monitoring two wolves in Yakima and Klickitat counties. One, a collared male wolf that was originally from the Naneum pack in the Central Cascades, and the other an uncollared wolf of unknown sex and age. Until recently, WDFW was not able to confirm those sightings.
The picture above was recently sent to me by a resident of Klickitat county with extensive knowledge of the backwoods. He confirms that wolves have been in that region for a number of years. The suspected wolf in this instance appears to not be a part of a pack. And judging from the size of the paw print, it's a big one.
WDFW has been working with both lumber companies and private land owners to conduct aerial surveys to estimated the wolf population numbers. Now, wildlife managers are asking people with evidence of wolf movement and tracks in locations the agency has not previously known for pack activity. Those with information can upload images and video at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/observations.
Washington’s species management plan calls for full de-listing of wolves in areas where they aren't federally protected. Though only when there are at least four successful breeding pairs in said region, among other requirements. This will allow for more hunts of problem predators.