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Washington introduced 8 wolf packs in 2022

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A wolf pack in Washington recolonized the south Cascades for the first time this winter as the state’s wolf population continues to grow.

On Friday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released its 2022 annual Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management report. The report found a 5% increase in wolf population growth from the previous count in 2021. The WDFW said it is the 14th consecutive year that the state’s wolf population has grown.

“The growth we’re observing in the North Cascades continues to be encouraging and having a pack become established in the South Cascades is a big step toward recovery of wolves in Washington,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “The goal has been for wolves to spread into all three recovery zones, and we are pleased to see their progress in recolonizing their former range.”

As of Dec. 31, 2022, the WDFW and local Tribes have counted 216 wolves in 37 packs in Washington. They include 26 successful breeding pairs. In 2021 the agency counted 206 wolves in 33 packs and 19 breeding pairs.

The WDFW said eight new packs formed in 2022 including the Big Muddy pack in Klickitat County, the Napeequa and Maverick packs in Chelan County, the Chopaka and Chewuch packs in Okanogan County, the Wilmont pack on the Confederate Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Ferry County, the Five Sisters pack in Stevens County, and the Mt. Spokane pack in Spokane County.

Two packs were disbanded in 2022, likely due to deaths, including the Nason pack in Ferry County and the Skookum pack in Pend Oreille County.

Washington’s wolves are counted annually using track, aerial, and camera surveys. The WDFW said the results of the survey represent the minimum count of wolves because of the difficulty in counting every animal, especially lone wolves without a pack. Because of this, the WDFW believes the actual number of wolves in Washington is higher.

Since the agency started conducting the survey in 2008, the state’s wolf population has grown by an average of 23% per year.

According to the WDFW, most wolf packs were not involved in documented livestock depredation. In 2022, 81% were not involved in any known livestock depredations and 19% were involved in at least one confirmed depredation. Only three packs were involved in two or more depredations.

In 2022, 15 cattle and two sheep were confirmed killed by wolves. Nine cattle were confirmed injured and two were likely injured by wolves in 2022.

“Implementation of proactive, nonlethal deterrence efforts by livestock producers, community partners, range riders, and WDFW staff has minimized documented livestock depredation and removal of wolves, all while our wolf population continues to grow,” said WDFW Wolf Policy Lead Julia Smith.

Since 1980, gray whales have been listed as endangered throughout Washington. In January 2021, they were federally delisted from the Endangered Species Act protection and the WDFW resumed statewide management of the species. On Feb. 10, 2022, the wolves were federally relisted in the western two-thirds of the state, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was put as the lead role in the recovery of wolves in the Cascades and on the Northwest Coast. Wolves on tribal lands are managed by tribal entities.

Source: komonews