WA Wildlife Officials Report ‘Unprecedented’ Wolf Numbers

Jan 17, 2013

Washington wildlife managers are working to avoid the kind of escalation in wolf conflicts that led the state to kill an entire wolf pack last fall. Officials from the Department of Fish and Wildlife told a crowd in Spokane Valley Wednesday they’re trying to keep livestock losses down, even as Washington’s wolf population grows. Jessica Robinson has more.

A meeting in Spokane Valley, Wash., on the state's gray wolves stretched late into the evening.
Credit Photo by Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Most of the state's wolves congregate in eastern Washington. Last September a cattle ranch near the Canadian border lost so many animals, the state flew in a sniper to take out the problematic Wedge Pack.

Even so, Washington's carnivore manager Donny Martorello reports that preliminary figures show the state wolf population grew from 27 to 51 just in the last year.

Martorello: “This is unprecedented population growth. You don't see this in elk herds, you don't see this in orcas, you don't see this in bald eagles. This kind of growth is phenomenal in the wildlife population.”

That’s not much comfort to ranchers like Alan Allison of Spokane.

Allison: “When you consider the population explosion that was on the charts in there, it's going to be incredible. They're going to move all over the state.”

Allison would prefer Washington had no wolves.

This was the first of three public meetings. Wildlife officials next visit Olympia and Seattle.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio