Wolf pack forms in southwest WA, litter of pups expected

Apr 12, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: 4:00 pm

wolf pack...

Wolf Juveniles, Gray Wolf, Mount Ranier, Washington. (Photo by: Ron Reznick/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

(Photo by: Ron Reznick/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A male wolf wandered into Klickitat County in southwestern Washington and now has a female companion, creating the region’s first wolf pack in a century, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Known as the Big Muddy Pack, named after its recorded territory being near Big Muddy Creek, the two wolves were enough to meet the minimum requirements to be recognized as a pack, and a new litter of pups is expected from the pair. According to WDFW, wolf pups are typically born in late April or early May.

Judge restores gray wolf protections after being eliminated in 2020

Their territory lies within the Yakama Indian Reservation, who named the pack.

As of Dec. 31, 2022, WDFW calculated, alongside data provided by local tribes, 216 wolves in 37 packs in Washington, including eight new packs.

Last week, it was reported that Washington’s wolf population grew once more in 2022 for the 14th consecutive year with an approximate 5% growth in population.

“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 in a press release. “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.”

With wolf populations growing, local livestock producers and herders are already gearing up for more protections. Last year, the state issued a kill order against the Togo wolf pack in Northeastern Washington after the group injured or killed four calves within a month.

Washington reinstates kill order for Togo wolf pack after a series of cattle attacks

“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 in a prepared statement.

Wolf pack attacks against cattle were at a minimum last year as just 19% of known wolf packs were involved in a depredation. Fifteen cattle and two sheep were confirmed to have been killed by wolves.

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Wolf pack forms in southwest WA, litter of pups expected