“It is encouraging to see Washington’s wolf population increase, and we hope the collared male wolf recently sighted with another wolf in the South Cascades brings us one step closer to wolf recovery statewide. However, this population is still vulnerable and the state should not be developing policies that make it easier to kill wolves. We need to stay the course to support wolf recovery and coexistence with human communities in Washington.”

Zoë Hanley, Northwest representative with Defenders of Wildlife
SEATTLE, Wash.

Despite a number of deaths, primarily from vehicle collisions and legal tribal harvest, the Washington wolf population has increased, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Their newly released annual population report detailed a 16% increase to 206 wolves in 33 packs across the state. 

“It is encouraging to see Washington’s wolf population increase, and we hope the collared male wolf recently sighted with another wolf in the South Cascades brings us one step closer to wolf recovery statewide,” said Zoe Hanley, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “However, this population is still vulnerable and the state should not be developing policies that make it easier to kill wolves. We need to stay the course to support wolf recovery and coexistence with human communities in Washington.”

Human-caused mortality remains the primary cause of death for Washington’s recovering wolf population. At least 30 wolf deaths were documented this year, nearly twice as many as the 16 deaths verified in 2020. Documented wolf mortalities were due to 22 legal tribal harvests, 4 vehicle collisions, 2 lethal controls and 2 suspected poaching incidents.

Background

The gray wolf is listed as an endangered species in Washington state, with breeding pairs in only two of three recovery regions. Wolves are also federally protected in most of the Washington, but currently lack federal protection in the eastern third of the state where most wolves live. 

In January, the first radio-collared wolf crossed south of Interstate 90 into the South Cascades and Northwest Coast Recovery Region. To date, he has not settled in a territory but was recently documented traveling with another wolf. The Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan considers wolves recovered when at least four successful breeding pairs are present in each recovery region, and there are three additional breeding pairs anywhere in the state for three consecutive years.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is currently developing a rule governing wolf-livestock conflict deterrence practices in the state. The WDFW Commission will vote on whether to adopt the proposed rule during this summer. It is paramount that this new rule require the use of nonlethal practices to proactively reduce wolf-livestock conflicts across the state and include clear stipulations for when lethal control will be considered.
 

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 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 defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

Communications Specialist
hhammer@defenders.org
(202) 772-0295
Northwest Representative

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