Gray wolf conservation and management
The gray wolf (Canis lupus), a native Washington species, was nearly eradicated from the state in the early 1900s. Wolves are returning to Washington on their own, dispersing from populations in nearby states and provinces--wolves were never reintroduced to Washington.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is managing this recovering endangered species, guided by a citizen-developed plan to address conflicts with livestock and impacts to other wildlife species. Citizen reports of wolf activity and problems are encouraged as WDFW staff members monitor the growth of Washington’s wolves.
WDFW produces an annual report documenting the status, distribution, and management of wolves in the state of Washington over the previous year. You can also watch a video of the 2021 Annual Wolf Report report being presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
WDFW biologists conduct an annual wolf population survey to obtain a minimum count of wolves in the state. That task is a daunting effort that currently employs a variety of tools, including radio collars, helicopters, and dart guns, but might eventually move to noninvasive—and safer—approaches, such as using trail cameras and AudioMoths (recording devices that enable researchers to listen for wolf howls).
If you are interested in receiving email notifications of wolf activity updates, you can sign up here.