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Quick guide to Washington's Wolf Plan

The new Washington wolf plan is scientifically credible, there is sufficient habitat in Washington to recover wolves to a minimum of 15 packs, and management tools to ease the coexistence of people and wolves is part of the plan.

Wolf packs in Washington, March 2012
Wolf packs in Washington, March 2012

On December 3, 2011 the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a conservation and management plan for Washington's wolves.

"It's a plan that not only will help recover wolves, but one that’s going to be able to avoid some of the conflicts and controversy we’ve seen in other parts of the West." - Jasmine Minbashian, special projects director, Conservation Northwest

Read the plan in full at the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife website

The plan is scientifically credible.

The heart of the plan is that wolves remain protected under state endangered species law until there are at least 15 breeding pairs well distributed among three separate areas across the state. (There is only one breeding pair in a pack; 15 packs is expected to equal less than 200 wolves.) Independent experts advised that 15 pairs is a bare minimum needed for recovery. By comparison, we have 2,000 cougars and 25,000 black bears in Washington.

Washington has sufficient wolf habitat to support a recovered population.

Washington has enough habitat to support more than 200 wolves. Our state has more than 21 million acres of forestland, the preferred habitat of the gray wolf. In this, Washington compares well to Idaho and Montana, and better than Minnesota where there are now 3,000 wolves, 5 million people, and a stable population of deer sustaining a level of sport hunting much bigger than ours.

Coexistence of people and wolves is part of the plan.

This plan provides important management tools, such as pack monitoring and financial compensation to ranchers who lose livestock to wolves. In cases where wolves are caught in the act of attacking livestock or pets, or where repeated attacks on livestock occur, lethal control is allowed, as it is in many other states’ wolf plans. The plan also allows for managing wolves if we encounter excessive impacts to deer, elk, or caribou herds.

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