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Washington Wolf Population Increases Despite Lethal “Management”

Washington state’s wolf numbers increased in 2019, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) annual wolf report released today. WDFW counted 145 wolves in the state, up from last year’s count of 126, despite killing 9 state-endangered wolves in 2019 for conflicts with livestock.

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of livestock owners. Since the early 2000s, under the aegis of the federal Endangered Species Act,the animals have started to make a slow comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia.

The successful start to natural recolonization of wolves in Washington was possible due to federal and state protection afforded to them.  Gray wolves remain fully protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington, and throughout the state under state endangered species law.

How many wild wolves are in the United States? See wolf population our map.