When Barry Lopez wrote his classic tome, Of Wolves and Men, over twenty five years ago, the understanding of wolf biology and ecology at that time was far less informed than it is today. Now, we know about ecological principles such as trophic cascades and the role of apex carnivores in maintaining healthy ecosystems. We know about the social structure of wolf packs, and that juvenile wolves need the adults in a pack to learn proper hunting techniques that could keep them from becoming “problem wolves”. We know about the distances that individual wolves can travel in search of new territory.
Radio-collaring, remote cameras, track and scat studies have given us an even more accurate look into the secret lives of wolves. In the scientific view, wolves are neither “good” animals nor “bad” animals. They are simply an intricate part of a larger complex ecosystem that has functioned for thousands of years, maintaining ecological equilibrium.
Grizzly Bear Outreach Project is working with State and Federal resource management agencies as well as other non-profits, to provide communities with accurate information on wolves and wolf behavior so that wise, informed decisions can be made and appropriate responses can be developed to Washington’s returning wolf packs. Gray wolves are native to the Pacific Northwest. Wolves returned to Washington on their own, and were not re-introduced as occurred in Yellowstone National Park. Currently there are eight established wolf packs in Washington. Scientific information such as DNA analysis is pointing to Washington having at least two distinct populations of wolves, those originating from the Idaho/Rocky mountain population, and those originating from Coastal British Columbia.
Gray wolves are considered endangered throughout Washington by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and existing State policy, although a budget-rider attached to a congressional budget bill resulted in their de-listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. The federal delisting applied to all of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf population, which includes the eastern third of Washington State. Wolves in Western Washington are still listed under ESA.
Washington State has an adopted Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. You can read the plan and become more informed about wolves in Washington by visiting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website page on gray wolves at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/ or the GBOP website which contains lots of information on Washington’s wolves at http://westernwildlife.org/gray_wolf/gray-wolf-canis-lupus/