File photo 
A gray wolf.

File photo A gray wolf.

Wolf population continues to make a comeback in Washington

The number of wolves in Washington state increased by 22%, marking the 12th year in a row the wolf population has grown, according to a recently released annual report.

Each year, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife releases a report on wolf recovery statewide. As of Dec. 31, 2020, there were at least 132 wolves in 24 packs in areas of the state managed by the department, and 46 wolves reported on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. In 2019, there were 108 wolves in 21 packs. Most of the packs are concentrated in northeast counties in Washington state.

Packs exist across the Cascades in Kittitas County. So far, no known packs have been established in King County, although there have been wolf sightings. Some experts expect to see packs emerge west of the Cascades in coming years.

Washington’s wolves were essentially wiped out in the 1930s, but in 2008, the first pack re-emerged as wolves naturally migrated down from Canada. Since then, wolves have been increasing statewide.

Gray wolves have been listed under the Endangered Species Act in Washington state since 1973. In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended federal protection for wolves in the eastern third of the state, but kept protection in the rest of the state. Wolves were delisted entirely by the federal government this January. However, under state law, wolves are protected statewide, regardless of federal classification.

Of the 132 wolves and 24 packs on state Department of Fish and Wildlife land, and the 46 wolves and five packs on the Colville Reservation, pack sizes range in size from two to 13. Most packs had at least three to six wolves.

Four new packs formed in 2020, including the Navarre Pack in Okanogan County, the Vulcan Pack in Ferry County, and the Onion Creek Pack in Stevens County. Wolves also re-established in the area formerly occupied by the Skookum Pack in Pend Oreille County.

Throughout the year there were 16 documented wolf deaths, including three that were killed by the state in response to wolf-caused livestock conflict. Eight of the 16 wolves were harvested by tribal hunters. One was killed by a vehicle, and two died of natural causes. Another was shot due to being a perceived threat to people, and one died of unknown causes, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State investigators confirmed that nine cattle were killed by wolves last year. Another 30 cattle and one herding dog were injured by wolves. Three calves were killed and two were injured by wolves. Seven packs were involved in at least one livestock kill, while 76% of the known packs were not involved in any livestock depredation.

Last year, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife spent a total of $1.55 million on wolf management activities.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

NW Carpenters Union members strike in front of downtown Bellevue construction site (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Carpenters union strike interupts some prominent Eastside construction projects

Union representative says members are prepared to strike “as long as it takes.”

Map of proposed landfill expansion sites (screenshot from King County website)
Waste management expert knocks county’s plan to expand landfill

The waste management advocate said the decision to expand seems pre-determined despite assessment.

Participants in fundraiser previous event (courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter)
Walk To End Alzheimer’s returns to Eastside on Sept. 25

Alzheimer’s Association moves forward with plans for an in-person event.

file photo
State employees including first responders sue state over vaccine mandate

The lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 90 plaintiffs claims Inslee’s order is unconstitutional.

Pixabay photo
Union carpenters to go on strike, expected to impact Eastside Microsoft projects

Members authorized strike after rejecting AGC offer for the fourth time.

file photo
The state’s hospitals face “unprecedented collapse” amid COVID uptick warn healthcare unions

Union spokeperson says understaffing was a problem even before the pandemic.

pizza from Tom Douglas’ Serious Pie (courtesy of Serious Pie)
Eastside to get its first Serious Pie restaurant location

Serious Pie is owned by Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas.

Axton Burton stands proudly in front of the greenhouse he made in his parent’s yard in Duvall, Wash. (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
How to make a greenhouse with 4,500 glass jars

How a Redmond resident spent nearly two years building a greenhouse out of salvaged materials.

Most Read