Wolf population continues to grow

(Staff Reports)

WDFW spent $1.27 million last year in wolf management…

Northeastern Washington continues to be the area where the bulk of Washington’s gray wolf population resides and is growing. According to an annual statewide survery, the population of wolves in the state has grown for the ninth consecutive year up to 122 wolves.

Those 122 wolves make up 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

In 2016, it was said that there were 115 wolves in 20 packs and 10 breeding pairs.

“We’re glad to see that Washington’s wolf population continues to grow, and are particularly excited to see a notable increase in the number of successful breeding pairs compared to past years,” said Mitch Friedman, Executive Director of Conservation Northwest. “It’s important to note that social tolerance for wolves continues to grow as well, evidenced in part by growing uptake of deterrence measures by livestock operators and reduced acrimony in the state legislature.”

Three wolves were killed during the year by Colville Tribe members in a limited hunting season on the reservation.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spent $1.27 million last year in wolf monitoring and efforts like range riders to prevent wolf attacks on livestock. The WDFW said that the wolf population has grown from year to year by an average of 31 percent.

Fifteen of the 22 known wolf packs are located in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille county.

“We are disappointed that more wolf packs have not yet become established in Washington’s North and South Cascades, despite quality habitat available in those areas,” said Friedman. “The recent confirmation of at least one wolf in Western Washington is exciting news, and unconfirmed reports continue to come in from areas south of Interstate 90. It’s our hope that in 2018 we’ll see further expansion of wolves into the South Cascades and Western Washington, and the progress towards state recovery goals such confirmations would bring.”

New packs that are classified this year include the Leadpoint, Togo, Ground Flats and Blue Mountains Pack. Two previously classified packs – the Skookum and Sherman Packs – were not counted because no more than one animal from the pack could be located.

Stevens County Commissioner Don Dashielle said to the Spokesman-Review that he was hoping to see a reduction in the number of wolves or at least a spreading of the distribution of wolves that would allow for delisting wolves from state and federal endangered species protections.

“We continue to have most of the wolves and wolf problems,” he said.
Wolves killed at least eight cattle and injured five others last year. Two wolves from the Smackout Pack and one from the Sherman Pack were lethally removed to discourage cattle attacks.

WDFW processed two claims totalling $3,700 to compensate livestock producers for their losses.