On October 29, 2020, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that gray wolves in much of the contiguous 48 states will be delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The rule will publish in the Federal Register on November 3, 2020 and will be effective 60 days after publication on January 4, 2021.
Once the rule is in effect, state and tribal wildlife management agencies will resume responsibility for sustainable conservation of federally delisted gray wolves. The state of Washington has facilitated wolf recovery for more than a decade and is well-prepared to be the management authority for wolves statewide. The USFWS will monitor the state’s wolves for five years to ensure the continued success of the species and that it continues to meet the federal recovery objectives.
Of the 26 known wolf packs in Washington, 21 reside in the eastern third of the state where wolves have not been federally listed under the ESA since 2013. The recent federal decision to delist gray wolves applies to the western two-thirds of the state and makes the federal status consistent across the state.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will continue to work closely with partners, stakeholders, and communities, just as we have over the past decade, on the recovery, conservation, and management of wolves in Washington, with a focus on achieving the state’s recovery objectives and reducing conflict between wolves and livestock.
WDFW is committed to the recovery of gray wolves in Washington and they remain listed as endangered by WDFW throughout the state. Wolf recovery and long term population sustainability remain a priority of WDFW. As guided by the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan developed in 2011, Washington’s wolf population is on a path to successful recovery.
Since the first WDFW wolf survey in 2008, the state’s wolf population has grown by an average of 28 percent per year. WDFW counted 108 wolves in 21 packs and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation reported 37 wolves in five packs in Washington during the annual wolf population survey at the end of 2019. Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Annual Reports can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/publications. Additional information on Washington’s wolves can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/wolves.