Monthly Wolf Report - January 2023

Publish date

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

Program updates and coordination

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.

The Wolf Advisory Group (WAG) held a meeting on Jan. 4-5 in Goldendale. Meeting notes and associated materials are available on the Wolf Advisory group page under the Meetings tab. During this meeting, the WAG heard a synthesis of April, June, and November 2022 wolf-ungulate interactions presentations previously given to the group.

Current population status and proactive conflict mitigation

The year-end minimum population count for 2021 was at least 206 known wolves in 33 known packs including at least 19 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 2022 will be released in April 2023.

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.

WDFW wolf biologists conducted winter capture and survey work in January. Thank you to the private timberland companies, landowners, other agencies, and incredible pilots instrumental to this operation. We appreciate all those that work with WDFW to conduct this important work!

Despite challenging weather conditions, the WDFW team deployed 15 radio collars on wolves during this effort (deployed on uncollared wolves or switching out collars at the end of their battery life). The team deployed collars in the Teanaway, Navarre, Shady Pass, Loup Loup, Sullivan Creek, Dirty Shirt, Stranger, Onion Creek, Carpenter Ridge, and Togo packs, as well as in new groups of wolves in Klickitat County and near Lake Wenatchee.

View of Washington wolf country from helicopter
Photo by WDFW

 

View of wolves from helicopter during survey operation
Photo by WDFW

 

Wolf captured during annual survey
Photo by WDFW
Aerial view during a wolf survey
Photo by WDFW

 

Plane at dawn for wolf surveys
Photo by WDFW
Scenes from the annual wolf count and capture operation.

 

Beaver Creek pack
No activity to report.

Butte Creek pack
No activity to report.

Carpenter Ridge pack
No activity to report.

Columbia pack
No activity to report.

Dirty Shirt pack
No activity to report.

Dominion pack
No activity to report.

Goodman Meadows pack
No activity to report.

Grouse Flats pack
No activity to report.

Huckleberry pack
No activity to report.

Leadpoint pack
No activity to report.

Lookout pack
No activity to report.

Loup Loup pack
No activity to report.

Navarre pack
No activity to report.

Onion Creek pack
No activity to report.

Salmo pack
No activity to report.

Shady Pass pack
No activity to report.

Sherman pack
No activity to report.

Skookum pack
WDFW staff investigated a mortality signal from the collar of an elderly male wolf in the Skookum pack. Staff found the wolf had died of natural causes. Staff estimate this wolf died in December 2022.

Smackout pack
No activity to report.

Stranger pack
No activity to report.

Sullivan Creek pack
No activity to report.

Teanaway pack 
No activity to report.

Togo pack
No activity to report.

Touchet pack
No activity to report.

Tucannon pack
No activity to report.

Vulcan pack
No activity to report.

Wedge pack
No activity to report.

Miscellaneous/lone wolves
WDFW staff continued to monitor a collared dispersing male wolf (originally from the Naneum pack) and an uncollared wolf (unknown age and sex) traveling in Yakima and Klickitat counties.

Note: The Frosty, Nason, Nc’icn, Keller Ridge, Strawberry, and Whitestone 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

  • As reported above, WDFW staff investigated a mortality signal from the collar of an elderly male wolf in the Skookum pack. Staff found the wolf had died of natural causes. Staff believe this wolf died in December 2022. As of this update, WDFW has documented 28 wolf mortalities in 2022.
  • On Jan. 5, Washington State Department of Transportation staff found a young female wolf hit and killed by a vehicle on I-90 on the Spokane/Adams County line near the west end of Sprague Lake.
  • One wolf mortality was documented in January. As of this update, WDFW has documented one wolf mortality in 2023. 

Depredation activity

In 2021, 76% of known wolf packs were not involved in any documented livestock depredation.

WDFW documented zero wolf depredation events in January, slightly lower than the average (0.4) from 2018-2022.

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

 

Lookout

5/20/22

Confirmed mortality of two lambs

Yes

3/20/23

 

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

5/17/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

3/17/23

 

 

5/18/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

3/18/23

 

 

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

Vulcan

4/30/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

2/28/23

 

 

Packs referenced in this update