We are encouraged by the latest signs that Washington's wolf population is growing and dispersing. To ensure the continued recovery of wolves in Washington, we must continue to expand our coexistence efforts. More and more livestock producers are opting to use nonlethal techniques. Studies show that these nonlethal methods are more effective at reducing conflicts than lethal removal. We continue to work for the ultimate recovery of wolves in Washington.
For Immediate Release
Washington Wolves Continue on Road to Recovery
Washington state’s 2017 wolf count was released today. The total number of wolves, number of packs and number of breeding pairs increased from 2016. In total, there are 122 wolves, seven more than last year. Two additional packs were formed in the state, bringing the number to 22. Lastly, there are four more breeding pairs, making a total of 14.
Wolf counts in Washington have remained constant or increased every year for the last nine years. Significantly, the number of livestock producers using nonlethal, coexistence measures also continues to increase.
Quinn Read, Northwest director for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“We are encouraged by the latest signs that Washington's wolf population is growing and dispersing.
“To ensure the continued recovery of wolves in Washington, we must continue to expand our coexistence efforts. More and more livestock producers are opting to use nonlethal techniques. Studies show that these nonlethal methods are more effective at reducing conflicts than lethal removal.
“We continue to work for the ultimate recovery of wolves in Washington.”
By the early 1900s, wolves were eradicated in the Pacific Northwest because of government-sponsored bounties, trappings and poisoning campaigns. In the 2000s, wolves began to return naturally to the state from British Columbia, Idaho and western Montana. Washington has conducted counts of its wolves over the last nine years using federal monitoring guidelines.
This count uses the minimum number of wolves in 2017 – meaning only wolves that have been explicitly confirmed. A pack is defined as any two wolves (mates, relatives, etc.) traveling together. A breeding pair – which is the most important criterion when determining recovery of a population – is a male and female with at least two pups born in the springtime that survive through the end of the year.
Wolves are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of the state of Washington. They are also listed under the state Endangered Species Act and protected by the Wolf Conservation & Management Plan. To be considered officially recovered in the state, there need to be 15 breeding pairs over three years in a row and, these wolves must be spread throughout the state’s three wolf regions. Currently, most wolves are concentrated in the northeastern part of the state, with three packs known to exist in the North Cascades and none residing in the western half of the state.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 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 Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.