Washington wolf census finds more packs, breeding pairs


By Nicholas K. Geranio, Associated Press

via Scottsbluff Star-Herald (NE) - Apr 6, 2019 


SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) The number of gray wolves in Washington state kept growing last year and for the first time the state documented a pack living west of the Cascade Range, wildlife officials said Thursday.


The state has a minimum of 126 wolves in 27 packs with 15 successful breeding pairs, defined as male and female adults that have raised at least two pups that survived through the end of the year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife found in its annual wolf census.


A year ago, there were 122 wolves in 22 packs with 14 breeding pairs.


The pack west of the Cascade Range, in Skagit County, consists of a single male wolf, captured in 2016 and released with a radio collar, that has been traveling with a female wolf through the winter. Biologists named the pack Diobsud Creek.


"We're pleased to see our state's wolf population continue to grow and begin to expand to the west side of the Cascades," agency Director Kelly Susewind said. "We will continue to work with the public to chart the future management of this important native species."


Wolves were nearly wiped out in Washington by the 1930s but started returning to the state from surrounding areas early in this century. The animals have preyed on livestock, causing conflicts with ranchers.


The census numbers are compiled from state, tribal, and federal wildlife specialists based on aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks and signals from radio-collared wolves. The count leads to estimates of the minimum numbers of wolves, because it is not possible to count every animal.


Most of the packs live in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties in the northeast corner of the state. But the census showed increasing numbers in Washington's southeast corner and its north-central region.


The upturn in new packs and breeding pairs sets the stage for more growth this year, said Donny Martorello, policy lead for the agency.


"Packs and breeding pairs are the building blocks of population growth," Martorello said...