Trail Cam Grabs Photo of Suspected Black Wolf in Indian Hill area of Snoqualmie

When Snoqualmie Cattle Company posted a photo of suspected wolf in the Indian Hill area of Snoqualmie (captured by a trusted friend’s trail camera) on their Facebook page, owner Heather Vincent never expected it to spark a firestorm of comments and debate. She simply wanted people to know a wolf had been in the area. The photo is time-stamped April 23, 2015.

Trail cam photo of suspected black wolf taken in the Indian Hill area of Snoqualmie.

Trail cam photo of suspected black wolf taken in the Indian Hill area of Snoqualmie.

 

The social media debate the photo sparked is somewhat typical when it comes to the contentious topic of wolves, as the native animal was almost completely wiped out early last century – purposely by humans – and then reintroduced some 60 years later.

Ranchers worry for their livestock. Hunters worry wolves will deplete elk and deer levels. Conservationists see how wolves benefit the ecosystem. Old folklore leads some to fear for their personal safety.

Wolves Reintroduced to Wild

In the mid 1990’s, while on the endangered species list, wolves were [intentionally] reintroduced to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. In this Northern Rocky Mountain region, the adaptable wolf has thrived and according to some environmentalists, greatly improved the ecosystem of Yellowstone.

Over the past two decades wolves have also re-colonized in Washington, naturally dispersing from neighboring populations in Idaho and British Columbia.

In the western two-thirds of Washington, wolves are protected by the National Endangered Species Act, with Washington State listing the gray wolf as a native endangered species and protecting it statewide.

Wolves aren’t like other Washington endangered species, though. They didn’t decline due to a loss of habitat or exploitation. Instead, they were intentionally extirpated in the 1930’s to reduce their impact on livestock. Wolves are resilient, and do not require additional habitat protections like other endangered animals. They can thrive in many suitable habitats if there is sufficient prey.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), wolves are carnivores and feed mostly on hoofed mammals (“ungulates”) like deer, elk, moose, caribou, and sometimes mountain goats and bighorn sheep.

WDFW states wolves “generally fear and avoid people, rarely posing a threat to human safety. In the past 60 years, there have been two wolf-caused human fatalities in North America.” Yet, wolves bring with them public safety concerns.

Washington has the smallest land base and second highest human population among western states, with large gaps between areas of suitable wolf habitat. For that reason, experts think wolf populations may not expand as fast here as in Rocky Mountain States. But the population is growing.

According to new survey numbers from the WDFW, the endangered wolf population continues to grow.  In 2014, it increased by 30%, with four new packs formed. As of December 31st, at least 68 gray wolves, in 16 packs and with five breeding pairs, were living in Washington – east of the Cascades.  In 2013 there were 52 wolves.

Hunters have reported seeing wolves farther west, but there has been no confirmed documentation of wolves in Western Washington. But on April 27th, a suspected black-colored wolf was hit and killed on I-90 east of North Bend, near milepost 41.  DNA is currently being tested and if it turns out the animal was a wolf, it will be the first confirmed wolf west of the Cascades.

Wolf Management in Washington

Washington’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan was put in place to re-establish a sustainable wolf population, and also deal with the depredation of livestock that sometimes accompanies wolves. The plan outlines the criteria for wolf recovery along with specific guidelines for using lethal measures to prevent livestock attack. The plan also allows the WDFW to use lethal measures to manage wolf predation on at-risk ungulate (deer, elk, etc) populations if wolf numbers reach or exceed the recovery objective within a region where predation occurs.

For more information on the gray wolf in Washington visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Holy mackeral! Just last week I was walking the dog in the evening at Rattlesnake Lake near where the stream crossing bridge is and saw an animal this color stop ahead and I thought it was a dog but when it turned and slinked away it looked like a big gray cat with a long furry tail and was low slung but as long as a medium size dog. This guy had the same color and body as the animal in the photo above. I am sure it was this animal and I suspected it was not a dog nor a big cat and it had the charcoal gray color and fluffy tail.

  2. One of my neighbors recently saw a black wolf on his trail cam – Moon Valley Road area

  3. We need wolves! says

    Glad to see the wolves in our area, they are much needed. Since the elk population has grown excessively to a size that is unmanageable, we need something that will naturally control them at an equilibrium level. Realize that the elk introduced to the valley were not native and although I enjoy seeing them, there are too many and are inbred (all defending from just a few elk) and most are lacking proper nutrition which is why they are eating our gardens and in our yards foraging. Wolves are not going to a danger to your pets and livestock unless you leave them out!

  4. The elk in nb are native. The introduced elk(mill pond) were rounded up and shipped elsewhere after becoming a nuisance. Know the facts before you speak.

    • WolvesAreAwesome says

      Actually.. the Roosevelt elk which are native to WA state only occur west of I-5 the elk in North Bend area are Rocky Mountain Elk which were introduced to the area and have since exploded in population and with very little predation are considered invasive. Without wolves elk are very detrimental to the ecosystem.. know the facts before you speak I guess

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  1. […] The image was referenced on Hunting Washington yesterday and written about today on something called Living Snoqualmie. […]

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