|Gray Wolf Conservation and Management
The gray wolf is an endangered species throughout Washington under state law, and under federal law in the western two-thirds of the state. Historically, wolves were found throughout most or all of Washington. They were extirpated (removed) from Washington by the 1930’s through targeted trapping and hunting, with the exception of a few individuals dispersing periodically into the state since then.
In recent years, wolf populations have re-established in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming through ongoing wolf-recovery programs. As wolves in these states increase in numbers and expand their range, they will be dispersing into Washington and establishing breeding populations here. Washington’s first fully confirmed wolf pack in many years was discovered in Okanogan County in July 2008, and the second was found in Pend Oreille County in July 2009.
In response to the eventual return of wolves and the state management responsibility following federal delisting, (as well as state law (WAC 232-12-297) requirements), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began developing a conservation and management plan for the species in 2006. Seventeen citizens with a broad range of perspectives were appointed by the WDFW director to a Wolf Working Group to advise staff in developing the plan.
The working group and WDFW staff met eight times in 2007 and 2008 (see Meetings) and public scoping meetings were held throughout the state in August 2007. A draft plan underwent scientific peer review in 2008. A revised draft was discussed in September 2009 by the Wolf Working Group, with comments from that discussion added into the plan. A 90-day public-review of the draft plan and accompanying draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was conducted in fall 2009, as required by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and included public meetings throughout the state. At the same time, blind peer review of the draft plan and EIS was conducted. Comments from these processes will be incorporated into the draft plan and EIS during the first part of 2010. A final working group meeting will then be held to discuss changes to the plan. Once a final draft plan is developed, it will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for consideration..