Tips for Coexistence with Wolves

Photo: Gary Kramer, USFWS

Wolves avoid humans, but encounters sometimes occur when humans and wolves use the same habitat. Wolves that approach people, buildings, livestock, or domestic dogs are either habituated to humans, unhealthy, wolf-dog hybrids, or former captive animals. Wolf-dog hybrids can be especially dangerous because they lack the shyness of wild wolves.

Even though wild wolves rarely threaten human safety, they are wild animals that should be respected and never approached.

Report all suspected wolf and wolf track sightings to the Washington Wolf Reporting Hotline at 888-584-9038.

At your home or ranch:

Never let wolves become comfortable around you or your home, or they may lose their fear of people.

  • Never feed wolves or other wildlife.
  • Garbage can attract wolves and other wildlife.  Keep garbage in a secure location.
  • Do not leave any food outside, including scraps, pet food, or livestock feed. When possible, feed animals inside.
  • Keep dogs under supervision. Wolves can be highly territorial toward other canids.
  • Wolves can be scavengers, so bury dead livestock and pets.
  • To prevent livestock depredation, consider the following:
    • At night, use range riders or dogs with cattle and herders or dogs with sheep.
    • Remove sick or injured livestock.
    • Delay cattle turnout until after calves are born and weigh at least 200 pounds and after elk calves/deer fawns are born.
    • Avoid areas near wolf dens and wolf rendezvous sites during spring and summer.
    • Use permanent or portable fencing, including electric fencing.

While camping, hiking, and hunting:

  • Never feed, approach, or allow wolves to come near, or they may lose their fear of people.
  • Stay away from fresh wolf kills, dens, and rendezvous sites.
  • Keep a clean and orderly camp. Cook and store food away from sleeping areas. Suspend food, toiletries, garbage and other loose objects on a rope between trees, or in secured kayak hatches, out of reach of wildlife. Wolves have been reported removing personal and other non-food items from campsites.
  • Do not bury garbage. If you pack it in – pack it out!
  • Wash dishes in a container and dispose of grey water.
  • Near the coast use areas below high tide mark, away from camp, in an area of high tidal exchange for toilets – do not use the upland areas, wolves will feed on human excrement.
  • Keep dogs on leash to avoid encounters. If you encounter a wolf, make the dog heel next to you immediately. Standing between the dog and the wolf often ends the encounter, but never try to break up a fight between a wolf and a dog.
  • If hunting with dogs, put bells or beepers on your dogs to keep close track of them. Keep dogs under your control at all times and put dogs on leash if you see fresh wolf signs.

In your community:

  • Remind your neighbors to never feed wolves and other wildlife.
  • Promote the reduction of potential wolf food sources in and around your community.
  • Notify authorities about wolves that seem comfortable around people, seek human food, or frequent human areas. Early intervention can keep a problem from getting worse.