Will wolves thrive in Blue states and disappear in the Red?

Wolves have migrated to Washington State from Idaho and directly from British Columbia.  This is perhaps in part due to the pogrom against them in the adjacent deep red state of Idaho where once there were more than 800 wolves. Now these new Washington State packs are producing pups and more wolves are showing up.

The Lookout Pack was the first Washington Pack, and on July 7 the Discovery Channel is featuring a 90 minute BBC documentary on them. Folks should check for local times to make sure they catch the program, but 8 PM is a likely time.  The program shows the search for this first Washington wolf pack in many years as well as some of harsh attitudes some hold toward them.  In fact, some members of the first pack were poached by members of a local family in the Methow Valley region of the state.

Wolves are also recovering and moving from Idaho to another Pacific Northwest state — Oregon. Both Washington and Oregon do have parts of their states that hold a substantial number of people who are what many others call “backward,” with “hateful” attitudes toward these creatures that have proven themselves to be surprisingly shy and the smallest threat to humans of all the large and medium sized carnivores — not a single wolf attack in 16 years in the lower 48 states.  So far, Oregon and Washington have proven more hospitable to the restoration of wolves in their states than dark red Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.  Montana, a light red state, is relatively hostile as well.

The distribution of public attitudes toward wolves, as implemented by elected and appointed officials, seems to be strongly correlated with Republicanism in power.  This is why the reference to “red” states.  An interesting question is, will the future of wolves be more related to where wolves have the best habitat or where the politicians are the most open-minded about the much mythologized progenitor of the dog?

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

15 Responses to Washington State’s Lookout wolf pack featured in Discovery Channel program July 7 (Sat)

  1. avatar Ida says:

    Wow, can’t wait to watch! Thanks,

  2. avatar Larry Keeney says:

    My prediction is that thrive or not in the red zone, the politicians will continue to convert tax revenue into useless, bottomless holes of “predator control” instead of foundational values such as education. Red will continue to farm meat off the public lands in the form of artificially high numbers of elk and deer and pounding the native soils into oblivion with livestock. Red governors will also continue to spout off their macho drumbeat of wanting the first wolf tag. Suppression of progressives is the name of the game whether it be in the form of selective leasing of state lands to the wealthy or suppression of land management science. If this country turns red nationally in the next election we will see land health set back decades in just a few weeks time. Get ready to time your snapshot of old faithful in between the oil derricks going up and down. The southern Idaho cold desert will convert to the JR Simplot National Domain, entrance by permit only.

  3. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    One of the most interesting facts about the Lookout Pack, the first pack to form in Washington State, is that it migrated down from British Columbia, and not that province’s interior, but from the Coast Range where the wolves have more reddish brown in their fur.

    As the documentary showed, these coastal wolves do a lot of fishing up in the Coast Range.

    They are completely unrelated to the wolf reintroductions in Idaho and Yellowstone.

    • avatar WM says:

      Ralph,

      I have not yet seen the BBC program, so look forward to doing so in the near future (recorded it last night).

      However, I do have to weigh in on your comment on these Coastal origin migrants. WA West side streams (west of Cascade Divide) is where most of the available fish are. These are now East side wolves, surviving and procreating in an environment much like the NRM wolves. It would be great if their diet included lots of dead or spawned out anadramous fish (salmon), as their coastal relatives eat. But, let’s be honest here. The interior Columbia Basin fisheries are somewhat limited (but growing some). Fish are seasonal, and fish are only where they are and in limited abundance (from what I know of the interior Columbia basin streams most of the year), meaning these wolves must rely on what is available when it is available. We also know wolves are highly adaptable. So, the rest of the year, they will be relying on ungulates, or for those that get in troubel, maybe some livestock. I am thinking the possibility of a fish diet is nominal in most of the range.

  4. avatar Leslie says:

    I was shocked to see on the History Channel in their ridiculous ‘Mountain Man’ show, a fellow in Montana trying to push wolves away from his cabin, and the show stating that ’20 wolf related deaths have occurred in the last few years’. TV shows like this help cement anti-wolf ignorant opinions in U.S. states even w/out wolves. I encourage people to go online to the History Channel’s website and complain. I did.

  5. avatar Mtn Mamma says:

    Colorado is a swing state, and that is how I feel the attitude towards wolves are here. We have plenty of ranchers (Ken Salazar) who are opposed to wolves coming home. Then you have the Left in Colorado who spend lots of $ on outdoor activities and are for the most part well educated. I am somewhat disapointed that the Lookout did not “escape” from Idaho, because if Colorado is ever to have any wolves, they will need to migrate from the NRM.

  6. avatar Richie G says:

    I like the idea of packs migrating into Washington state and Oregon state, I do believe congressman De Fazio is from Oregon wolves will have a chance their. He and another Senator proposed a bill to get the BLM out of predator control,at least they tried. I do believe the wolf packs will have a better shot at life in these states.Thank God

  7. avatar DLB says:

    Jasmine Minbashian, who was feautured quite frequently in the documentary, is an employee of Conservation Northwest.

    Internally, I believe there was a discussion about whether to buy air time for a commercial highlighting CNW, since the group was not mentioned in the documentary. Some thought that it would be an effective method for creating interest and connecting with new donors/advocates. One of the large donors who had supported this approach in the past with a different group/issue said they had only limited success, so the idea was dropped.

    • avatar jon says:

      I watched the documentary and thought it was good. Scott Fitkin, WDFW biologist also had a cameo in the documentary. I thought it was a good overall documentary. One thing that struck me as strange is when Jasmine went to Idaho to meet up with wolf hunter Milt Turley. Jasmine went on a wolf hunt with Milt Turley. He saw a deer and claimed it was a wolf and Jasmine corrected him by saying that it’s a deer, not a wolf.

      • avatar bret says:

        I thought it was informative and well done. The Idaho wolf hunting segment was pretty much a joke, many hunters/predator hunters cringed – apparently that was the second time in his life he has used a preditor call, sounded awful.
        The AR platform and the .223 round is used often predator hunting the use of a 30 round magazine is just added weight and bulk. No explanation of why he picked that location, no discussion of wind or concealment he just shows up to a spot with 3 maybe 4 people and starts blowing on a call “educating” every bobcat, coyote, cougar and wolf in the valley that a rabbit in distress = a group of people that mean you harm. Lol what a joke, but the segment was produced to make hunters look like idiots, and it was a success.

  8. avatar Richard G. says:

    I am glad that wolves are going into these too states,they will have a chance their. Their congress people are better, remember these two states signed on for cleaner air pollution from “cars and plants”, as did California,yes wolves and all wildlife have a better chance in these states. Very good article,the approach and the theme was very thoughtful and right on the mark.

  9. avatar Richard G. says:

    P.S. I will look the film up on my computer,can’t wait !

  10. avatar ramses09 says:

    Leslie, Will go on the History Channel site & make a complaint – thanks for the info on that.
    I am also glad that the wolves are going into Oregon & Washington. But, there are backwards people there too. The more progressive folks are to the west. But @ least they (wolves) have a better chance than they do in ID, MT, or WY.

  11. avatar Richie G says:

    Look up the picture on pbs website or u-tube,website related to wolves in Washington state.

  12. avatar Cindy Penner says:

    too bad Washington has caved to ranchers on the east side of the state.
    http://www.king5.com/news/environment/Killing-NE-Washington-wolf-pack-cost-77000-179293801.html

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