8th Wolf Pack Confirmed in Washington State

Many of Washington’s residents are thrilled to see that our native gray wolf population is showing signs of recovering and expanding their range. For the most part, it has been a peaceful return and the wolves are finding natural prey and keeping away from humans. But what should we do when ranchers in remote areas find predation has occurred on their animals as was reported to occur at a ranch in “The Wedge,”  an area of recent wolf activity in Stevens County near the Canadian border between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers, the same area occupied by Washington’s newest wolf pack?  Even though wolf recovery is very popular with a majority of Washington residents, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a fine line to walk in implementing the State’s new Wolf Conservation and Management Plan adopted by the State’s Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Department last December. Local staff from the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project who live and work in the ranching communities will be listening to concerns voiced by the community and cooperating in efforts to find enduring solutions.  The story below from the Seattle Times discusses Washington’s newest wolf pack–one they will be monitoring now that they have collared an adult male. Department personnel hope that non-lethal means can be employed to harass any wolves approaching livestock.  However,  one Stevens County rancher has been issued a kill permit if he sees a wolf approaching or harming his cattle.  For more information on the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, please visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/ or our own information at  http://westernwildlife.org/gray_wolf/gray-wolf-canis-lupus/
SPOKANE, Wash. —
Wash. wildlife officials: 8th wolf pack confirmed
Washington Fish and Wildlife officials say they’ve confirmed an eighth wolf pack in the state.  An adult wolf believed to be the pack’s alpha male and a pup were caught Monday in northwestern Stevens County near the Canadian border. The adult got a monitoring collar and the pup got an ear tag.

Wildlife officials say this is being called the “Wedge” pack, named for the wedge-shaped part of Stevens County between the Kettle River and the Columbia River.

Just last month, officials said the agency had confirmed a seventh Washington wolf pack, this one in southern Stevens County, north of the Spokane Indian Reservation. They’re calling that one the Huckleberry pack.

6 thoughts on “8th Wolf Pack Confirmed in Washington State

  1. There is MANY Washington residents that are very unhappy with this news!!!! The wildlife population in this state isn’t that plentiful anyway and now have wolves in the mix is going to make it a a lot harder for wildlife viewing and hunting!!!!! Why don’t we try to increase or better our habitat for Elk, Deer and Bear so they prosper instead of putting them on the run with wolves!!!!!

    • Jax, You are right that we all need to work together to conserve and improve habitat for all of Washington’s wildlife species. Our wolves are not introduced, they returned to Washington on their own. Studies in Yellowstone over a ten year period have shown that the return of the wolves has improved the vigor of the elk herd, and that riparian habitat which benefits a myriad of wildlife species, has improved as well as the elk disperse to other areas. After ten years, scientists have been unable to make a direct tie between the wolves returning to Yellowstone and a reduction in elk numbers. Where elk numbers have declined, they believe it is due to other reason such as persistent drought which has affected food availability.

  2. Okay, so the great cloud of confusion and lack of information continues. I have been under the impression that the wolf which is being introduced in this area is the Mackenzie grey wolf. Is it truely a “lost native” of this area or was that specific subspecies selected from a list of possible canidates, all of which are just considered “wolf?” Myself, I could never argue the return of what once was. Like the grizzly. But, introducing a snakehead into U.S. waters as just a “fish” or a python into the Everglades as just a “snake” does not make sense.
    What are the specifics here? I know that different subspecies of wolves once populated almost all of the continent in the recent past, and many areas still have a native population which fits perfectly in its ecosystem. Beyond that, its a bit fuzzy out there.

    • No wolves have been re-introduced in to Washington State. We believe that members of the wolf packs in Washington may have originally moved down from the BC coastal gray wolf population, as well as from northern Idaho and southern interior BC. However, they are all the same species,canis lupus. The laws that govern protection of the gray wolf in Washington State are the the federal (ESA) and state Endangered Species laws.

      Historically gray wolves occurred throughout much of Washington in strong numbers, as we know from fur-harvest records and other historical data. We don’t know for sure if the population now re-establishing territories were wolves which always spent some time between Washington and Idaho or Canada, or are new arrivals to Washington. In any case, the law makes no distinction. They are our native gray wolf, Canis lupus. and they arrived here naturally to once again find their place in their native habitats.

      A number of recent studies have shown that ecosystems which include both native predator and prey species, provide environmental services throughout the ecosystem not previously appreciated. (I refer you to one excellent and enjoyable read on the subject, “The Wolf’s Tooth” by Cristina Eisenberg.) For instance, in Yellowstone National Park, the re-established population of wolves has caused elk to become more wary. As a result, they spend less time feeding and resting in stream corridors. Aspen and willow are returning, and so are beavers who need those plants for food and dam construction. Riparian areas and streams are recovering, and beaver ponds are providing improved habitat for native trout and other native fish, whose populations are also recovering, much to the delight of flyfishers who come from many parts of the country to fish the famous Madison and Yellowstone Rivers. Songbird populations who also rely on riparian habitats such as Yellow Warblers, are also rebounding.

      In the Olympic Mountains of Washington State we are on the verge of losing our native population of Hoary Marmots. Although studies are still underway, research points to an abundance of coyotes who prey on them as a possible culprit. Wolves are no longer present in the Olympics to keep the coyote population in check.

      Ecosystems are complex environments where every organism has a role to play, roles which we are just now beginning to understand and appreciate.

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