Monthly Wolf Report - April 2023

Publish date

This update provides an overview of gray wolf conservation and management activities in Washington during April 2023.

Program updates and coordination

  • The Wolf Advisory Group (WAG) held a meeting on April 12-13. Meeting notes and associated materials are available on the Wolf Advisory group page under the Meetings tab. During this meeting, the WAG heard presentations from and had discussion with students, professors, and WDFW staff involved in the Washington Predator-Prey Project.
     
  • WDFW continues to support the Conflict on Workinglands Conservation Innovation Grant (CoW-CIG) research team’s evaluation of the effectiveness of range riding at reducing conflicts between livestock and carnivores. In April, researchers continued to coordinate with participants to establish a timeline for starting field work. Two technicians have been hired to assist the PhD student leading the effort for the coming field season.
     
  • The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Police continue to investigate six wolf mortalities within the Wedge pack territory in Stevens County. WDFW Police began the investigation in February 2022, and it is ongoing. Toxicology results revealed all six wolves died from ingesting poison. The investigation remains active, and the Department encourages anyone who might have relevant information to report it confidentially by calling WDFW's poaching hotline, 877-933-9847, or by texting a tip to 847411. Rewards totaling $53,900 are available for information that leads to a conviction in the case of the poisoning of Stevens County wolves.

Outreach and education

  • WDFW staff and members of the Wolf Advisory Group presented to the North Cascades Institute this past month. WDFW staff gave an update on the status of wolves in Washington and members of the WAG shared information about themselves, why it is important to them to be part of the Wolf Advisory Group, and the contributions they hope to make as part of that group.
     
  • WDFW staff met with folks from Conservation Northwest who run a trail camera grid in the central and south Cascades in an effort to search for new wolf packs and monitor other wildlife in this area. Biologists shared recent public observation locations and wolf movements to guide efforts to where wolves might be establishing in areas south of I-90 in Washington and in the central Cascades.
     
  • WDFW staff attended a meeting in Anatone to discuss recent wolf activity. The local Wildlife Conflict Specialist followed up with livestock producers after the meeting; they appreciated the chance to ask the team questions and express their concerns with the recent increase in wolf activity.

Current population status and proactive conflict mitigation

The year-end minimum population count for 2022 was at least 216 known wolves in 37 known packs including at least 26 breeding pairs. Annual wolf population surveys are conducted in the winter because wolf populations experience the least amount of natural fluctuation during this time. Counting the population at the end of each year allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year when the wolf population is most stable. The year-end minimum population count for 2023 will be released in April 2024.

Reports of remote camera images or videos, wolf tracks, or sightings from the public are extremely helpful in locating previously undocumented wolf activity and potential new packs on the landscape. Please take photos of wolves or wolf sign (use some way to measure the size of a track) and upload them to the wolf reporting page via the following link: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/observations

Definitions: A “pack” is defined as two or more wolves traveling together in winter, and a “breeding pair” is defined as at least one adult male and one adult female wolf that raised at least two pups that survived until December 31. In any given year, the number of packs will always be greater than or equal to the number of breeding pairs. The known territories and more information for each pack can be viewed by clicking the pack name.

Beaver Creek territory
No activity to report.

Big Muddy pack
No activity to report.

Butte Creek pack
No activity to report.

Carpenter Ridge pack
No activity to report.

Chewuch pack
No activity to report.

Chopaka pack
No activity to report.

Columbia pack
No activity to report.

Diobsud Creek territory
No activity to report.

Dirty Shirt pack
No activity to report.

Dominion pack
Biologists scouted in this pack territory for trapping opportunities to attempt to collar a wolf in this pack. 

Five Sisters pack
No activity to report.

Goodman Meadows pack
No activity to report.

Grouse Flats pack
WDFW biologists set traps in the Grouse Flats pack territory this past month and were able to capture one male wolf on April 30 and one female wolf on May 1.

Wolf captured and waking up from immobilization
Photo by WDFW
Yearling male wolf (88 lbs.) from the Grouse Flats pack, captured, collared, and released.

Huckleberry pack
No activity to report.

Leadpoint pack
Biologists scouted in this pack territory for trapping opportunities to attempt to collar a wolf in this pack. 

Lookout pack
No activity to report.

Loup Loup pack
No activity to report.

Maverick pack
Biologists scouted in this pack territory for trapping opportunities to attempt to collar a wolf in this pack. 

Mt. Spokane pack
Biologists scouted in this pack territory for trapping opportunities to attempt to collar a wolf in this pack. 

Napeequa pack
No activity to report.

Navarre pack
No activity to report.

Onion Creek pack
On April 17, WDFW staff investigated a dead calf in a private pasture in Stevens County that had been discovered and covered with a tarp the day before by the Ferry/Stevens County Special Deputy. WDFW staff determined that the calf was killed in a confirmed wolf depredation event. Evidence on site, including drag marks and wolf tracks, indicated that wolves were at the scene. Subcutaneous hemorrhaging identified around the injuries discovered on the armpits, neck, and hamstrings indicate that the injuries were sustained prior to death. The calf was in an open private pasture where multiple deterrence measures were in use at the time. In response to the depredation, remaining livestock were moved into a smaller paddock with woven wire fencing, and Fox lights were redeployed around the paddock. As an additional deterrent, WDFW staff set traps in the pasture and one adult wolf was caught, collared, and released on April 19.

Salmo pack
No activity to report.

Shady Pass pack
No activity to report.

Sherman pack
No activity to report.

Smackout pack
Biologists scouted in this pack territory for trapping opportunities to attempt to collar a wolf in this pack. 

Sprague Lake territory
No activity to report.

Stranger pack
Biologists scouted in this pack territory for trapping opportunities to attempt to collar a wolf in this pack. 

Sullivan Creek pack
No activity to report.

Teanaway territory
A lone male collared wolf from the Teanaway pack dispersed this past month and crossed I-90 to the south. WDFW staff are currently monitoring the wolf’s movements as he travels.

Togo pack
No activity to report.

Touchet pack
No activity to report.

Tucannon pack
No activity to report.

Vulcan pack
Biologists scouted in this pack territory for trapping opportunities to attempt to collar a wolf in this pack. 

Wedge pack
No activity to report.

Miscellaneous/lone wolves
Depredations of an alpaca and donkeys were documented in Ferry County in April. Efforts to understand which wolves or wolf pack might be frequenting this area are under way.

Note: The Frosty, Nason, Nc’icn, Keller Ridge, Strawberry, Whitestone, and Wilmont pack territories are within Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CTCR) lands and are managed under tribal authority. Information regarding these packs is proprietary and reported at the discretion of the CTCR.

Mortalities

There were no wolf mortalities documented in April. As of this update, WDFW has documented one wolf mortality in 2023. 

Depredation activity

In 2022, 81% of known wolf packs were not involved in any documented livestock depredation.

Please report any suspected livestock depredations or the death or harassment of wolves to the WDFW Enforcement Hotline at 1-877-933-9847.

Below is a summary of packs with documented depredation activity within the past ten months (some packs have depredation history prior to the current ten-month window; this timeframe is considered based on guidance from the wolf-livestock interaction protocol).

Pack

Depredation date

Depredation type

Proactive non-lethals

Ten-month window

Agency lethal removal actions

Grouse Flats

8/12/22

Confirmed mortality of steer

Yes

6/12/23

 

 

8/30/22

Confirmed mortality of steer

Yes

6/30/23

 

Leadpoint

8/22/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

6/22/23

 

 

9/1/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

7/1/23

 

 

9/16/22

Confirmed mortality of cow

Yes

7/16/23

 

 

9/19/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

7/19/23

 

 

9/19/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

7/19/23

Adult male removed 9/27/22; adult female removed 9/28/22

 

9/30/22

Confirmed injury of cow and calf (calf died from injuries)

Yes

7/30/23

 

 

10/7/22

Confirmed mortality of cow

No

8/7/23

 

Onion Creek

2/1/23

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

12/1/23

 

 

4/17/23

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

2/17/24

 

Smackout

8/17/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

6/17/23

 

 

8/20/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

6/20/23

 

 

8/27/22

Probable injury of calf

Yes

6/27/23

 

 

8/28/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

6/28/23

 

 

8/31/22

Confirmed mortality of two calves

Yes

6/30/23

Juvenile male lethally removed 9/8/22

 

9/26/22

Probable mortality of calf

Yes

7/26/23

 

 

10/3/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

8/3/23

 

 

10/6/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

8/6/23

 

 

10/8/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

8/8/23

Yearling female removed 10/10/22

 

10/12/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

8/12/23

 

Stranger

7/28/22

Probable injury of calf

No

5/28/23

 

Togo

6/8/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

4/8/23

 

 

6/12/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

4/11/23

Yearling female lethally removed 6/14/22; adult male lethally removed 6/17/22