06:13 PM

First Washington Wolf Goes West


Date: April 30, 2015
Contact: Melanie Gade: mgade@defenders.org ; (202) 772-0288

First Washington Wolf Goes West

SEATTLE – The first gray wolf known to travel west of the Cascade Crest in Washington state was confirmed this week after local officials found it killed by collision with a vehicle on Interstate 90 between North Bend and Snoqualmie.  Despite this wolf’s unfortunate death, conservation organizations see its dispersal this far west as an encouraging sign of progress in wolf restoration. There is ample suitable habitat for wolves in western Washington including throughout the Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest and Olympic National Park, but there has been no confirmed wolf activity there since the population was largely eliminated by the early 1900s. At the end of 2014, Washington reported a minimum number of 68 wolves and 5 breeding pairs in the state. 

Shawn Cantrell, director for Northwest programs for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“This wolf’s journey west is what wolf recovery and restoration should look like in Washington state. While it is truly unfortunate and tragic that this wolf died after being hit by a car, it’s also encouraging to see proof that wolves are dispersing farther throughout the state.

“I look forward to seeing other wolves travel across the Cascades where there are vast stretches of unoccupied and excellent wolf habitat. But as they do, it is crucial that state and federal protections in western Washington remain, or it will be nearly impossible for wolves to safely move and establish new populations there.

“Defenders remains committed to partnering with local communities and landowners to employ proven, on-the-ground nonlethal tools and strategies to reduce potential conflict with livestock and wolves as the species continues to regain its historic habitat in Washington.”

Background: Since Congress convened in January, elected officials have proposed three different bills to remove federal protections for wolves in select states. The third bill was proposed last week by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) which, if passed, would congressionally delist wolves under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in Washington, Oregon and Utah. Wolves in eastern Washington were congressionally delisted a few years ago, but they are still protected under state endangered species laws and managed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the eastern part of the state.

All wolves in Oregon and Washington migrated from either Canada or adjacent Idaho after ESA protections led to reintroduction there in 1995. A small handful of wolves in Oregon have successfully traveled from east to west in that state; this is the first know wolf in Washington to appear west of the Cascade Crest. 

Defenders has worked with state, tribal and federal wildlife managers since wolves were first re-established in the U.S. Northern Rockies in the 1990’s. In Washington state, Defenders is focused on imperiled species conservation at the state and local level, working with legislators and state agency officials to help shape state laws, policies and programs and coexistence solutions that will better ensure long-term wolf sustainability.




Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.