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Uniquely Pacific Northwest wolves

Sep 15, 2012

Sept 15 - Will Cascades wolves retain federal endangered species act protections? The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently deciding, and Conservation Northwest and others called on President Barack Obama to maintain Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the Pacific Northwest.

Uniquely Pacific Northwest wolves

A reddish hued coat and smaller stature marks this coastal Northwest wolf and suggests its genetic connection to Cascades wolves. Photo: BC coastal wolf, copyright David Moskowitz,

Twenty-four conservation organizations including Conservation Northwest in August called on President Barack Obama to maintain Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the Pacific Northwest. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is currently deciding whether wolves in the Northwest and other areas will retain protection.

Read the related press release
“Wolves called the Pacific Northwest home for 10,000 years,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest. “The fact that they are returning to the Cascades on their own is a good sign, but if we want them to survive and fully recover they will need our help.”

The need for continued protection of wolves in the Pacific Northwest was driven home when the Lookout Pack—the first breeding pack to be confirmed in Washington in more than 70 years—was decimated by poaching. The poachers were caught and prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act.

Right now, all of the state’s packs are found in just two regions. Several are in Eastern Washington (the USFWS considers the other seven packs to be Rocky Mountain wolves) and just two are in the Northern Cascades. Of the two Cascades packs, only the Teanaway Pack has a breeding pair. The Lookout Pack last successfully reared pups to adulthood in 2009, prior to the suspicious disappearance of the alpha female in early 2010.

In the winter of 2011, California saw its first wolf in more than 80 years when the wolf known as OR-7 migrated from Oregon.

Wolves from western British Columbia have been living largely separate from inland Rocky Mountain wolves for many generations. Over time they gradually adapted to local climatic and habitat conditions, developing specialized behaviors, such as hunting and eating salmon, and forming distinct genetic profiles obvious in their DNA. These wolves now appeared to be spearheading recolonization of the wolf’s Pacific Northwest range in the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and coastal mountains.

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