Washington wolf (photo by WDFW).

Wolf recovery is in full swing in Washington after their systematic extermination in the early 1900s. Idaho and British Columbia are the source populations for Washington’s wolves. WDFW counted 108 wolves in 21 packs and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation reported 37 wolves in five packs in Washington at the end of 2019. Click here to see a map of wolf pack territories in Washington.

2018 numbers: at least 126 wolves/27 packs/15 breeding pairs.

While wolf recovery is going strong in Washington, challenges remain. Poaching is an issue, as is lethal control. In the summer and fall of 2012 the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed 7 out of 8 wolves from the Wedge Pack in remote northeastern Washington after a series of livestock losses.  A similar setback to the population occurred after the state killed most of the Huckleberry Pack in 2014. WDFW failed in its responsibility to these wolves in many ways, including not following their own depredation protocols, not insisting that the public lands rancher take meaningful preventative measures, and being too responsive to the livestock industry in general. With these lethal control actions acting as motivating catalyst, ensuring Washington wolf recovery continues on an upward trajectory is receiving our full attention.

May 11, 2020: Cascadia Wildlands and our conservation allies submitted an administrative petition to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requesting the declaration of rules that would create enforceable guidelines around state and state-sanctioned wolf killing. The state has killed 31 wolves since 2012, relying on a protocol that skews heavily toward lethal and ineffective outcomes. The petition urges the wildlife commission to amend its rules to require that livestock producers use appropriate non-lethal deterrence methods to prevent conflict between livestock and wolves. The new rules would ensure that the state kills wolves only as a last resort. Stay tuned for developments and opportunities for comment.

* Federal protections for gray wolves have now ended with the removal of gray wolves from the Endangered Species List by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as of October 29, 2020. Legal action by Cascadia Wildlands and conservation allies is being taken.