Seattle/ Parks & Nature
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Published on April 21, 2024
Washington's Gray Wolf Population on the Rise, New Packs Emerge as Numbers Climb 20%Source: USFWS Midwest Region from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The wolf pack in Washington just got bigger, a recent annual report shows a considerable uptick in the number of gray wolves roaming the state. The statistics are in: as of December 31, 2023, there are 260 wolves in 42 packs living in Washington, a robust 20% climb from the year before when numbers tallied 216 wolves across 37, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The WDFW's efforts to track these elusive canines, which involve track surveys, aerial views, and remote camera spotting, have led to the discovery of seven new packs last year, including names like the Beaver Creek and the Skookum packs, the expansion of these wolf packs is indicative of broader ecological shifts, the wolves are making moves and not only in the literal sense, they're also marking new territory in the animal kingdom's hierarchy. WDFW Director Kelly Susewind mentioned, "This likely means it is only a matter of time before new packs begin to establish in that recovery region," while discussing the development of wolf packs south of Interstate 90, as per the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Despite the growth, confrontations between wolves and domestic animals haven't spiked. A mere 23 confirmed or probable livestock depredations were documented last year. Breaking it down, that's 78% of wolf packs minding their own business and not wreaking havoc on farms, says WDFW Statewide Wolf Specialist Ben Maletzke explained, "These proactive and reactive efforts... have reduced the number of wolf depredations and lethal removal of wolves."