Statement on Washington’s upcoming 2019 minimum wolf count
Conservation Northwest / Mar 16, 2020 / News Releases, Wolves
Washington state’s confirmed minimum wolf population count as of the end of 2019 is expected to be released in early April 2020. Conservation Northwest released the following perspectives in advance of the count. More information will be provided in a statement following the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s release of the count in April. Current information on wolf packs in Washington is also available on this webpage.
“The state’s annual minimum counts are an important gauge of wolf recovery, but it’s critical to keep in mind that they are just that: a confirmed minimum,” says Paula Swedeen, Ph.D. Conservation Northwest’s Policy Director and a member of the state’s Wolf Advisory Group. “Individual wolves are very difficult to document as they expand to new areas, and our state’s total wolf population is certainly higher than this baseline count. We support the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife putting out reasonable estimates of the actual population, above these minimum numbers.”
We have learned that the 2019 minimum wolf count may not change much from 2018, due in part to the lack of a survey of wolves on the Colville Reservation, and the fact that wolves already occupy most of the available quality habitat in northeast Washington. We are anxious to see the new count and whether further range expansion is occurring and breeding pack numbers are stable. Still, we remain optimistic about the progress of wolf recovery in Washington, particularly the relatively low level of conflict compared to other Western states at similar points in wolf recovery, and last year’s expansion of packs to Western Washington.
“Along with state and federal scientists as well as researchers from the University of Washington’s Conservation Canines program, we’re working to better understand the status of wolves in the Cascades, and whether there are barriers to wolf recovery in the South Cascades and coastal region that are slowing progress towards state recovery goals,” said Swedeen.