The hard work and efforts of wolf conservation in Washington state are finally paying off. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the states wolf population grew by at least four new packs. At the end of 2015 Washington was home to 90 wolves, 18 packs, and at least 8 breeding pairs. The minimum number of wolves has grown by 32% from the previous year, despite the death of at least 7 wolves due to various causes.
However with the wolf population rising again in northern states, the collaboration between the WDFW, livestock producers, and local residents has become increasingly important. Trying to prevent conflicts between wolves, domestic animals, and even people is highest on the priority list. The new wolf packs have gotten their own names, Beaver Creek, Loup Loup, Skookum, and Stranger. These new packs have been spotted relatively close to cities or towns, this makes the need for steps to be taken on safety and precautions. The cities where these packs seem to stay around are Ferry, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, and Stevens County. With more and more wolf packs around eastern Washington it was a surprise when a couple packs could not be found anymore. Researchers dedicated to the welfare of our wolves have stated that there is no evidence of the previously documented Wenatchee pack, and the Diamond pack has shifted into Idaho and is no longer included in the Washington state total. These wolf packs moving to another state is not a bad things though. It just means that their population is growing and spreading. Even though these wolf packs have moved on, the wolf numbers in Washington continue to rise. The number of breeding pairs has increased from five to eight, and although its only a difference of 3 pairs, it can be a substantial gain. There has not been an increase in breeding pairs since 2011, so the news of 3 more pairs has caused celebration.
Despite these rising numbers, there has actually been a drop in how many attacks there were on livestock and domestic animals in 2015. In 2015 wolves were responsible for the death of 7 cattle and injuring only one guard dog. WDFW is helping ranchers in the eastern part of the state with the cost for preventative measures being taken. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your livestock from wild animals.
Once there are 15 successful breeding pairs for 3 consecutive years, the gray wolf of Washington will be taken off the endangered species list. With 8 pairs, they are almost half way to no longer being endangered. Just a few years ago, their numbers were dwindling. Now their numbers are looking more and more promising.