Washington State wolf plan out for public review*

Plan contemplates a possible large state wolf population-

Plan contemplates floor of 15 breeding pairs. Wolves to be distributed all around the state. AP

The preferred alternative sounds like an advanced plan with a much better distribution pattern of wolves than we find in Idaho, and especially better than Montana or Wyoming. Currently the state has two wolf packs. One, near Twisp, falls fully under protection of the Endangered Species Act and consists of wolves that migrated in, not from the Rockies, but from the B.C. Coastal ranges.

Here is the plan. 4.5mb pdf

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*Whoever wrote the headline in the PI story didn’t seem to sense the real story in the story.




  1. nabeki Avatar

    One thing I don’t like about their plan is 15 packs for recovery. I think that’s too low. Also in all the options it allows for lethal control of wolves but just different benchmarks. In option 2, which the state prefers, it allows ranchers to kills wolves when they are at threatened status.. In option 3, which is a better plan all the way around, it allows ranchers lethal control when the wolf is listed as sensitive.

    Canis Lupis Returns to Washington State After 70 Years

  2. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Has any action been taken regarding the two wolves killed in the Okanogan. WA area?

  3. howlcolorado Avatar

    The stated goals of the preferred plan are admirable however.

    – Restore the wolf population in Washington to a self-sustaining size and geographic distribution that will result in wolves having a high probability of persisting in the state through the foreseeable future (>100 years).

    If this stays at the primary goal, then the impact of special interests will be mitigated. The generous compensation program is particularly promising as it becomes somewhat profitable for the ranchers to co-exist (remember – money talks).

    I want to talk about working together. http://www.howlcolorado.org (you can use the email address on that is listed on that site).

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    15 breeding pairs is more than 15 packs as the Idaho, Montana, Wyoming found out.

    It turns out the ranchers are not very effective at shooting wolves. It has been a minor source of mortality in Idaho, WY, etc.

  5. Mgulo Avatar

    The Okanogan Case is under investigaiton by both State and Federal officials. It’s too well known to evaporate.

    15 packs would likely be the “tip of the iceberg” in a state with as much wilderness, Nat’l Parks and road closure areas as WA. Also less grazing on public lands than Motana, Idaho or Wyoming so less potential for conflicts with livestock.

    Oh! Heavens! Could we be seeing a reasonable plan? What joy!

  6. catbestland Avatar


    I just tried to contact you by the email address on the howlcolorado website. That link is not working. Could you please post an alternative contact or ask Ralph for my email?

  7. nabeki Avatar

    Ralph says:
    “15 breeding pairs is more than 15 packs as the Idaho, Montana, Wyoming found out.”

    You’re right Ralph. I actually meant to say breeding pairs not packs. I must have ADD today, I also spelled Canis Lupus wrong….lol.

    Thing is I’m always suspicious of “wolf management plans”, although this one sounds as reasonable as any that exist so far. The Washington FWP spokesperson said something very encouraging.

    “Wolves need two things,” said Madonna Luers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman. “They don’t need land-use restrictions. They just need a healthy prey base, and human tolerance. So to build that, we need to reach out to the industry that is most directly impacted by this, and that is the livestock industry,” she said.

    But they still have to go through the public hearings and comments. I’m sure there will be wailing and crying from the ranching and hunting interests.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Washington will do the right thing for the wolves.

  8. nabeki Avatar

    Also, it’s so good to see their two breeding pairs thriving. Some good news for a change!


  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Although every state has its problems, including Washington State with a very high unemployment rate, at least it is not like Idaho run by handful of people with ties to the industries of the past and no thoughts about the future.

    Washington has the hope that change can happen.

  10. nabeki Avatar

    Ralph says:
    “Washington has the hope that change can happen.”

    Yes, Washington is very different in that they have less of the SSS mentality you mentioned and antiquated thinking. It’s a beautiful state…oh to be a wolf and roam the Olympics or Cascades.

    Still, now in the beginning I think wolf advocates should push for as much as they can get because this is when the state is listening.

    All in all I’m happy to see wolves doing well there. It’s just the beginning.


  11. Cris Waller Avatar

    I also hope for change.

    Washington is not a predator mecca- especially in the northern part of the state, they have had insane anti-cougar attitudes- even as populations have been plummeting, some counties are calling for more and more control- and then, of course, the governor has bent over backwards to accommodate the cattle industry, allowing grazing in areas of critically endangered species.

    But we can hope…

  12. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I think Washington may have the most intelligent plan in the western US. Maybe they can be a model for other states and persuade them to allow reintroductions.

  13. Rita K.Sharpe Avatar
    Rita K.Sharpe

    I hope things go well there and that change can happen.

  14. jerryB Avatar

    Wash. offers payments for wolf kills of livestock
    OLYMPIA, Wash. — With ranchers in Washington concerned about gray wolves, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing what may be the most generous compensation for livestock losses in the West.
    An agency spokeswoman, Madonna Luers, tells The Wenatchee World the plan is intended to foster support for the newly restored wolf population.
    It’s one of four alternatives in a draft environmental impact statement that was released Oct. 5.
    The preferred alternative offers twice the value of an animal confirmed to be killed by a wolf on a grazing site of 100 acres or more and full value on sites less than 100 acres. It also offers full value for animals that are considered “probable depredation” by wolves on grazing sites of 100 acres or more and half the value of the animal on sites less than 100 acres. State or federal officials would determine whether wolves were responsible or likely responsible for the kills.

    Here is the plan. 4.5mb pdf

  15. william huard Avatar

    Hopefully the Washington plan will gradually help the other western states to adopt more reasonable management plan. I recommend the Mech text for an overall good description of wolf behavior and biology. I quote from the future of the wolf section:
    ” These people cannot be changed. If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, outfinanced, and outvoted. Their narrow and biased attitute must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes. Finally their hate must be outdone by the love for the whole of nature, for the unspoiled wilderness, and for the wolf as a beautiful, interesting, and integral part of both.”

  16. timz Avatar

    Mech should practice what he preaches.

  17. JB Avatar


    Mech also said: “It is ironic that this simple majority-rule type of wildlife management is basically the same approach that extirpated carnivores so many years ago. Although there were no actual referendums at that time, there were bureaucrats acting contrary to scientific opinion but bending to the public will (Grinnel and Storer 1916, Dick 1925, Albright 1931).

    The lesson to be learned is that public sentiment is fickle. If major carnivore management decisions are determined by public mood rather than by the knowledge of professionals, we could end up with California full of carnivores and North Dakota with none.”

    It is interesting how much your quote differs from this one. Mech is rewriting history in the first paragraph. When federal predator eradication was institutionalized, many scientists and probably most public lands managers supported the policies.

    Mech, L. David. 1996. A new era for carnivore conservation.
    Wildlife Society Bulletin 24(3):397-401. Jamestown, ND:
    Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
    (Version 16MAR2000).

  18. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    I am just wondering where these wolves (15 breeding pairs) will roam, conflict free with livestock ranching, hunting and urbanization. WA already has a much larger human population than ID, MT and WY, in a decidedly smaller land area, and population is likely to continue to grow. If you start paring away at the clearly unsuitable areas like the Puget Sound corridor, I-5 communities, Spokane, eastern flank of the Cascades and habitat which is unsuitable for elk, that gets the land area down to about 1/3 of the state or less, several parts of which are geographically isolated. The three national parks and a couple of adjacent wilderness areas, with flanking national forest lands seem to be about it. Is that enough land area? Washington also has a pretty aggressive winter elk feeding program in several areas. I doubt seriously that elk hunters will take kindly to wolves chowing down on the elk congregated there from December through February.

    What is the likely calculation in total numbers of wolves from 15 breeding pairs, sustained for three years? Is it something like 150-250 wolves? And, then there is the “management of numbers” issue that will arise as the population continues to grow.

    And if you think the the three “S” crowd is confined to parts of WY and ID, get ready for the folks on the Olympic Peninsula around Forks, Aberdeen and Port Angeles who value their elk.

  19. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    William Huard,

    I have seen that Mech quote too many times to count. However, it needs to be put in proper context, and tempered by the fact that over time Dr. Mech has changed his own views. He seems to be more centrist in his views which are now qualified by political/economic realities, and greater scientific knowledge that wolves are a very resilient species, whose numbers and status are not even close to other “endangered species” we should, as a society, be concerned about.

  20. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Just a few comments Wilderness Muse. You do point out a lot of problems in your first comment above.

    After following the wolf issue for 15 years, I don’t think human population density has any direct relationship to acceptance of wolves. Some of areas that hate wolves the most, have the fewest number of people and very few objective, as opposed to cultural — psychological — conflicts.

    Look at the Baker, OR area where there are very minor conflicts, yet the livestock interests go on and on over a few dead sheep.

    Regarding the Forks and Port Angeles areas, the culture of these places has changed a great deal in the last 15 years. Fifteen years ago, Forks was a “logging capital.” Now 99 out of 100 people, especially the young, think “vampires.”

  21. JB Avatar

    “I don’t think human population density has any direct relationship to acceptance of wolves.”

    Actually, as your comment suggests, if anything the relationship is negative (i.e. as human populations increase, acceptance of wolves increases). John Linnell and colleagues had an interesting paper that helps address some of WM’s concerns. They found large carnivore populations were NOT influenced by human population density, so long as management remained favorable.

    They conclude: “…the data support our hypothesis that patterns of large carnivore extinction and persistence in Europe and North America are more adequately explained by management policy and its enforcement than by human population density.”

    Linnell et al. 2001. Predators and people: conservation of large carnivores is possible at high human densities if management policy is favourable. Animal Conservation (4):345-349.

    Link: http://www.bearproject.info/pdf/apub/A%2034.pdf

  22. JB Avatar

    Sorry, I meant “positive” NOT “negative”. I should read these things before I hit the “submit comment” button!

  23. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This is a simplification, but the lack of a correlation or negative correlation is due to the cultural importance of livestock raising in sparsely populated areas. Livestock raising and tolerance and reestablishment of carnivores don’t mix.

    In fact agriculture in general and abundant wildlife beyond a few favored species don’t mix.

  24. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse


    There are number of small farms and ranches, ranchettes etc, in which people raise a few cows, horses and sheep throughout Washington. I do not know whether there has been much comparison to densities in other Western states, but it seems there are fairly large numbers of them scattered throughout the east and west sides of WA – horseback riding and raising your own beef/sheep are big there. If wolves find these areas easier to get a meal than in the adjacent timber, conflicts will arise. These are “high value” targets, and family pets. They include those $2,000 pleasure horses. And, this is one reason why the Washington plan seems to take into account the higher reimbursement market rates for confirmed and even suspected wolf kills. As I understand it from my sources, that was one reason the wolf planning group meetings were held on the east side of the mountains in Ellensburg (western flavor rodeo town with a 4 year college, as well as being in the center of the state for convenience of travel), where alot of these small ranches, as well as larger ones exist. The public meetings also seem to hit the east side of the state a little harder too, even though most of the population is along the coast.

    As for Forks, the vampire craze from “Twilight” fame is likely a passing fad. The community is still largely forest products based even though logging is down because of market conditions and a dwindling timber resource base, with very high unemployment and no real sustainable alternative economic future. That means lots of subsistence poaching of elk and deer now and in the future, even poaching by a growing illegal immigrant population living off the grid (working under the table in the forest products sector – thinning trees, commercial picking of mushrooms and salal. The coastal tribes – Quinault, Quiliutte, Elwha, I suspect would revere the wolf, but will likely have conflicts with their desire for large elk populations for enrolled members who subsist on them along with bounty from the sea. If elk are more wary due to presence of wolves, query whether tribal subsistence hunters will consider that a positive. That, of course, could be countered by the possibilty of improved riparian habitat helping restore salmon runs.

    Port Angeles, is attempting to reinvent itself with limited success, as two mills have closed in the last year and others run at less than full capacity. The young people leave in droves as there are no jobs, except seasonal Olympic N P jobs. Whether social attitude changes toward wolf reintroduction in these communities in, say, 5-10 years, or so is a good question? I suspect, based on an earlier comment I made on reintroduction of wolves to ONP, Vancouver Island wolves might be more acceptable than migrating mainland Canadian wolves or those coming in from ID, which are then relocated within the state as contemplated under the preferred alternative of the WA plan. I have not yet had a chance to read it in full, but I gather that is part.

    No doubt Olympic Park Associates will weigh in on this.

  25. Mgulo Avatar

    Worrying about wolves in the Olympics isn’t something to spend a lot of time on. I worked on the investigation of reintroducing wolves to the OP a decade ago and the conclusions were that 1.) wolves were highly unlikely to make it to the OP on their own across the I5 corridor, 2.) wolves would not survive outside the ONP and surrounding wilderness areas due to poor prey base and extensive roading providing access to humans with rifles and 3.) local sentiment was (and remains) strongly antiwolf, anti-Fed and anti-regulation in general. Not a positive situation for re-establishing a large carnivore in the near future. None of that has changed significantly.

    The ONP would welcome wolves but I doubt the tribes would be real excited about sizeable numbers of an animal that competes with them for elk, as stated above. They expressed concern over the re-introduction of the fisher because it might interfere with tribal trappers, who number a lot less than tribal elk hunters! Of course, I could be wrong, have been before.

    By the way, the Forks area has been developing a pretty good, if fledgling, tourist trade over the past decade that has nothing to do with Twilight. But it is still small, doesn’t pay all that well and does not replace the timber jobs or timber payroll. There’s still a lot of folks around Forks with attitude, 4×4’s and rifles. A critter still has to be quick or…..

  26. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    The 1.2 million acre Yakama Indian Reservation is to the east of Mount Adams and just south of the city of Yakima (population 95,000) in central Washington. It contains very suitable habitat for wolves. It will be interesting to see how the Yakama tribe view wolves, as they graze cattle and sheep on portions of their land, where elk (and deer)are important subsistence species. The 10,000 member tribe has been known to take contrarian views on many issues – sometimes with great internal disagreement among members.

    Since the entire state of Washington only has about 35,000 elk, with 5,000 on the Yakama Reservation and 8,600 in the Olympic Mountains (where it seems based on present views no wolves will be located) one has to wonder where the wolves of Washington will live and what they will eat when in competition with human hunting interests. The largest concentrations of elk are at Mt. St. Helens, Yakima, and in the Blue Mountains in the SW part of the state. This might determine their geographic location. Yakima and coastal elk hunters will not like that at all. That leaves deer as a primary source of food, which will no doubt raise the hackles of deer hunters throughout the state where they are present, but in numbers below what hunters would like to see.

    This, of course, takes us back to my first post earlier this morning about urbanization, hunters, livestock – and now, Indian interests. My suspician is Washington DFW is in for a rough go with this plan.

  27. Mgulo Avatar

    I have never, ever, heard one single experienced wildlife manager say wolves are easy. Look up “serious wildlife management challenge” and there are two pictures: humans and wolves. They make grizzlies seem easy!

    The ESA does not say “recover where convenient or easy.”

    Just for grins, the Methow wolves seem to be on a “mule deer economy” to quote a knowledgeable local bio. Not sure what the Pend Oreille guys are eating as long as it’s not cows. But no matter what they eat, somebody’s going to complain.

  28. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wilderness Muse,

    This won’t be easy. You point out valid concerns. The wolf density won’t be high, but recall that wolves don’t need elk. They like elk, but deer do well and WA state is hardly elkless, just fewer elk.

    Spreading wolves deliberately around the state would seem wiser than allowing them to just build up in the NE corner.

    Remember that wolves manage to live on the Israeli/Palestine border!

  29. JL Wortham-Morgan Avatar

    Does any know where the locations and times are for the meetings on the Wolf Plan? The DOW email link didn’t list them and I would like to attend the Spokane one on the 27th if I can find it.

  30. JL Wortham-Morgan Avatar

    AH I found a link with dates, times & locations of the meetings…


  31. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I think if Washington can pull of a successful wolf management plan it might out the pressure on states like Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana that have more room to manage more responsibly. Maybe other states will reintroduce after seeing this. Call me overly optimistic.

  32. izabelam Avatar

    Pro..you are very optimistic..and it is so gooooooooooooood…can we all get along…?

  33. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I can get along with most…;)

    I just would love to see the interest in wolf restoration return. I remember when the Yellowstone restoration occurred there was talk of restoring wolves to Colorado, the Olympic Peninsula, and the Adirondacks. Whatever happened to all of this? Was it ever serious? That is why it makes me glad to see that wolves have been establishing themselves in Washington and the state is being proactive. I know it does not have the space for a huge population but it is a start. I wonder when Utah will start getting some wolves there on a permanent basis since they can disperse from Idaho and Wyoming.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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