Wolf sightings in Washington? There’s a map for that
If you’ve ever seen a wolf (or what you thought was a wolf) wandering around nearby, you’re not alone. There’s a map for that.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has received 295 wolf sighting reports in 2018 alone, a few of which occurred in the greater Seattle area, reports the Northwest News Network. Though the department believes that some of the reports may have confused coyotes or dogs with wolves, which is probably offensive to the wolves.
In that sense, the map is less of a wolf sighting map and more of map where people may have seen wolves. So it’s not a map a wolf would ever use.
State law protects gray wolves throughout Washington and Oregon; they’re considered an endangered species in the western regions of both states. At the moment, wolves in Washington are at the center of a contentious debate between ranchers and wolf advocates, with advocates arguing that WDFW is beholden to ranchers and occasionally allows the killing of wolves in violation of the environmental policy act. For their part, ranchers argue that aggressive wolves are killing their cattle and threatening their livelihood.
A recent annual report says the state of Washington has 122 wolves in 22 packs, mostly in the Northeastern part of the state. Oregon has about the same amount, and both states are seeing an increase in wolf sightings. Oregon received 397 wolf sightings just last year.
According to the WDFW, such reports are most useful when the reported sighting features a photo or video of the animal in question, or at the very least a footprint, in order to help biologists assess what it actually was.