New wolf pack confirmed in Washington state

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There’s a new wolf pack in town. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently confirmed the pack dubbed “Big Muddy” in southwest Washington, according to KOIN 6 News. It’s the first confirmed pack in the area since 1924.

The “Big Muddy” pack currently inhabits parts of Klickitat County. It was formed after wolf “109M” left the Naneum pack in central Washington in December 2021 and “headed south.” Last spring, he was sighted traveling with another wolf, thus establishing the new pack, which biologists believe could have pups this spring though “no pregnancies have been confirmed within the pack” yet.

“At this point, it’s still just a likely outcome,” said Gabriel Spence, a WDFW wolf biologist. “About 70% of packs in Washington become successful breeding pairs in a given year. Most packs in Washington have pups starting about now, mid-April until early May, so it might be a little while until we know.”

Generalized dispersal paths for four GPS collared wolves that dispersed from known wolf packs in Washington in 2022. Source: Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2022 Annual Report

According to Spence, Washington’s wolf populations have grown by “an average of 23% per year” and likely will expand throughout the state as new packs are established as well as into parts of northwest and eastern Oregon.

“It is possible,” said Spence. “Wolves have an amazing ability to disperse across many miles and to cross some pretty daunting obstacles … Wolves are very adaptable and only have a few habitat requirements. Mostly wolves just need adequate prey and a way to avoid human-caused mortality.”

Wolf sightings have been on the rise since the 1990s in Washington; however, it wasn’t until 2008 that biologists were able to officially document a native pack. Since then, wolves have reestablished themselves with packs throughout eastern Washington and the Northern Cascades.


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