Statement on news that Washington now home to more than 122 wolves

Statement on news that Washington now home to more than 122 wolves

ConservationNWAdmin / Mar 16, 2018 / Restoring Wildlife, Wolves

In response to the news that Washington state was home to a minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs, and 14 successful breeding pairs at the end of 2017 (full report), Conservation Northwest issued the following statement:

“We’re glad to see that Washington’s wolf population continues to grow, and are particularly excited to see a notable increase in the number of successful breeding pairs compared to past years,” said Mitch Friedman, Executive Director. “It’s important to note that social tolerance for wolves continues to grow as well, evidenced in part by growing uptake of deterrence measures by livestock operators and reduced acrimony in the state legislature.”

“We are disappointed that more wolf packs have not yet become established in Washington’s North and South Cascades despite quality habitat available in those areas,” said Friedman. “The recent confirmation of at least one wolf in Western Washington is exciting news, and unconfirmed reports continue to come in from areas south of Interstate 90. It’s our hope that in 2018 we’ll see further expansion of wolves into the South Cascades and Western Washington, and the progress towards state recovery goals such confirmations would bring.”

Washington’s confirmed wolf packs at the end of 2017. Click here for larger version. Map: WDFW

“As wolves have continued to recolonize wild areas of our state, Washington has engaged in a decision-making process rooted not in acrimony and moving goalposts, but in dialogue, a search for common-ground, and thoughtful collaboration so that we can have both healthy wolf packs and local communities that accept them,” said Friedman. “Tolerance for wolves in the rural areas where they reside is essential for long-term recovery. Forums including the state’s Wolf Advisory Group are leading to an increased understanding of wolf issues on all sides.”

The state’s 2017 survey is a minimum count due to the difficulty of accounting for every animal, especially lone wolves without a pack. Survey findings reflect information from aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks, and signals from radio-collared wolves. Five new packs were documented—the Frosty Meadows, Grouse Flats, Leadpoint, Five Sisters and Togo packs—all located east of the Cascade Mountains.

Ben Maletzke, WDFW statewide wolf specialist, emphasized that the annual survey adds to data about larger recovery trends.

“Here and in other states, wolf demographics are highly dynamic from year to year,” Maletzke said. “The real value of these surveys is the information they provide about long-term trends, which show that our state’s wolf population has grown by an annual average of 31 percent over the past decade.”

A regional non-profit organization, Conservation Northwest has been actively engaged in wolf recovery and conservation in Washington for well over a decade. In 2008 the group discovered the first wolf pups born back in the state in nearly a century—the Lookout Pack in the Methow Valley. The organization played an active role in the formation and approval of Washington’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan (Wolf Plan) in 2011, and has long participated in the state’s Wolf Advisory Group (WAG), represented by Policy Director Paula Swedeen, Ph.D.

In addition to advocating for wolf conservation and management policies that further long-term wolf recovery and acceptance alongside thriving local communities, the organization leads the Range Rider Pilot Project, a collaborative effort with large Eastern Washington ranches, now in its eighth year, to implement non-lethal conflict avoidance measures that reduce or prevent depredations on livestock.

Conservation Northwest also offers standing rewards of up to $10,000 to bring wolf poachers to justice, works with hunting groups and others to increase tolerance for native carnivores, and supports research on the expansion of wolves in Washington and potential effects on other native wildlife populations, including deer, elk, moose and mountain caribou.

For media inquiries, please contact communications@conservationnw.org. Read the full annual report here. This page will be updated with links, wolf pack maps and more detailed information as it becomes available.

For additional perspective regarding Washington’s Wolf Plan and the recovery goals within it, please see this statement from Sunday, March 18, 2018.