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Report: Wolf population in Washington increases for 10th straight year

(KIRO 7 file photo)

The recovery of Washington state’s wolf population continued in 2018, according to an annual year-end report released on Thursday from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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The Department said the state has a minimum of 126 individual wolves, 27 packs and 15 successful breeding pairs.

Successful breeding pairs are defined as male and female adults who have raised at least two wolves that survived through the end of the year.

In 2017, there were a minimum of 126 individual wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs.

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

Department officials said information and survey findings were compiled from state, tribal, and federal wildlife specialists based on aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks and signals from radio-collared wolves.

“As in past years, the annual count provides estimates of the minimum numbers of wolves in the state, because it is not possible to count every wolf,” department officials said.

Officials said the upturn in new packs and breading areas set the stage for more growth in 2019.
“Packs and breeding pairs are the building blocks of population growth,” Martorello said. “It’s reassuring to see our wolf population occupying more areas of the landscape.”

While the wolf population grew, officials said they recorded 12 wolf deaths during 2018.

“Six were legally killed by tribal hunters; four were killed by WDFW in response to repeated wolf-caused livestock deaths; and two other mortalities apparently were caused by humans and remained under investigation at year’s end,” officials said.

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