More information on the relationship between wolf and ungulate populations

Wolves and Big Game

Gray wolves are top-level predators that have few competitors on the landscape they inhabit. For that reason, their return to Washington has implications for other native wildlife populations and the ecosystems they share with those species.

Wolves usually hunt in packs averaging four to eleven animals, chasing their prey across relatively open landscapes. Packs are highly territorial, with an average home range of 140 to 400 miles.

Wolves' primary prey is elk, deer, moose, and other ungulates, which has raised concerns about their possible effect on big game populations and the future of hunting in the state. Wolves also prey on smaller animals such as mice and rabbits, but ungulates make up the bulk of their diet.

While most elk, moose, and deer populations in Washington are currently stable or growing, WDFW has expanded monitoring efforts to help understand the effect of wolf predation on state herds. The state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan provides the department with several options – including lethal action – to protect at-risk ungulate populations from predation by wolves.


Experts from three western states to discuss effects of wolves on hunting opportunities

Jon Rachael, Idaho Department of Fish and Game's state wildlife manager and Jim Williams, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' northwest wildlife program manager will discuss the impacts wolves have had on deer, elk and other big game animals in their states. They will also discuss strategies that successful big game hunters have adopted while hunting in their states.

Dave Ware, WDFW statewide game program manager, will describe the status of wolves and big game hunting in Washington.