WDFW reports ten years of population growth for state’s wolves

WDFW reports ten years of population growth for state’s wolves

In their year end report for 2018, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that the state’s wolf population has grown by a total of four wolves for an overall estimate of 126 wolves.

Those 126 wolves are broken up into 27 packs; an increase of five packs from the year prior.

There is also one more successfully breeding pair, for a total of 15.

A successfully breeding pair is one that has raised at least two pups that survived through the end of a year.

Those numbers represent that highest levels since wolves were nearly wiped out in Washington back in the 1930’s.

WDFW reported that most wolf packs are found in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille County, but they are seeing increasing numbers in the South East and North Central parts of the state as well.

“We’re pleased to see our state’s wolf population continue to grow and begin to expand to the west side of the Cascades,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “We will continue to work with the public to chart the future management of this important native species.”

In 2018, the department recorded 12 deaths. Six were legally killed by tribal hunters, four others by the department because of livestock deaths and two others were human caused and are under investigation.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered by state law throughout all of Washington and are federally listed in the Western two thirds of the state.

“Wolves routinely face threats to their survival-from humans, other animals and nature itself,” said Ben Maletzke, a WDFW wolf specialist, “but despite each year’s ups and downs, the population in Washington has grown steadily and probably will keep increasing by expanding their range in the north and south Cascades of Washington.”

Maletzke noted that only five of the 27 packs in Washington were involved in at least one livestock mortality. Wolves killed at least 11 cattle and one sheep, and injured 19 other cattle and two sheep. The WDFW paid out five livestock damage claims totaling $7,536 to compensate producers for direct livestock losses. Additionally, they paid out $5,950 for a single indirect claim compensating a producer for reduced weight gains associated with wolf-livestock interaction.

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