The deadliest year for Mexican gray wolves

The unique, beautiful landscape of the American southwest echos with the howls of the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in our nation. Mexican gray wolves, or “lobos,” have been the subject of conservation efforts since 1976.1

But 2018 was the deadliest year for Mexican gray wolves since their reintroduction program began.2 If these wolves are going to continue to recover, they need all the support they can get.

With two new U.S. senators in Arizona, it’s a prime time to remind them — and the senators from New Mexico — that their states’ wolves need advocates if they are to survive. Add your name to remind southwestern senators to support Mexican gray wolf recovery in their states.

Wolves Need Us

Five dead Mexican wolves in November brought the year’s mortality count up to a record-breaking 17.3 With only 114 individuals remaining in the wild, every dead wolf is a terrible blow to the population’s health.

From the very beginning, Mexican wolf reintroduction has been plagued by poaching and human interference. Five of the 11 lobos originally released in 1998 were killed, prompting the agency to bring the survivors back into the relative safety of captivity before trying again.4 Just last December, a New Mexico rancher had his grazing permit revoked for trapping a Mexican gray wolf and hitting it with a shovel.5

History, both distant and recent, shows that Mexican gray wolves need our help.And it was former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake who pushed strongly for Mexican gray wolves to lose their protections last year — so it’s important that his successors start off their tenure on the right foot with regard to these irreplaceable animals.6

Tell the senators from New Mexico and Arizona to protect the Mexican gray wolves that roam the southwestern U.S.

Your voice is a powerful tool for wolf conservation. Tens of thousands of Environmental Action supporters have spoken up for wolves of all kinds every time they’ve come under threat — and we’ve seen great results. We’ve preserved Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. We spoke up together to ensure the safety of the last 35 wild red wolves.

It’s time to raise our voices to win that same safety for Mexican gray wolves. They’re a unique and beautiful part of our nation’s ecology. They can’t go overlooked.

Let’s ensure that the senators from southwestern states don’t forget their responsibility to protect their states’ irreplaceable wildlife.

Thank you for standing with wolves,

The Environmental Action team

1. “What is a Mexican Wolf?” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, August 1, 2018.
2. Susan Montoya Bryan, “A Record Number of Mexican Gray Wolves Were Found Dead in 2018 Imperiling Conservation Efforts,” Associated Press, December 13, 2018.
3. “Mexican Wolf Recovery Program Monthly Update,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, November 2018.
4. Susan Montoya Bryan, “A Record Number of Mexican Gray Wolves Were Found Dead in 2018 Imperiling Conservation Efforts,” Associated Press, December 13, 2018.
5. Alex Devoid, “Forest Service moves to revoke rancher’s grazing permit for trapping, hitting endangered wolf,” Arizona Republic, December 17, 2018.
6. Brandon Loomis, “100 wolves enough? Jeff Flake wants to remove federal protections for Mexican gray wolves,” AZ Central, January 8, 2018.

Game and Fish proposes reduced wolf hunt quota

PINEDALE – One of the anticipated changes to this year’s hunting season regulations will be the trophy-game gray wolf quota set by Wyoming Game and Fish each year.

This year, with most trophy wolf hunt areas opening on Sept. 1, Game and Fish is proposing a lower harvest of 34, compared to the quota of 58 set in 2018. The proposed wolf hunts as well as changes in furbearing, falconry, firearm cartridges, archery and mountain lions regulations will be discussed and are open for comment through June 17.

The proposed 2019 wolf quota appears conservative, with some quotas almost halved from 2018, but large carnivore biologist Ken Mills of Pinedale said the end-of-year objective remains at about 160 wolves. Higher human-caused mortality rates are expected – and much larger litters are expected, he added.

“The main data from which the mortality limits are derived include the number of wolves in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area and the estimated mortality rate required to move the population toward the end-of-year objective,” he said.

Last year ended with an estimated 152 wolves within the trophy-game management area, eight below the wildlife agency’s objective. Balancing all of the factors includes gaining eight more wolves to be right at 160.

“We had at least 152 wolves in the WTGMA, which is 28 percent less than what we had at the start of 2018,” Mills explained. “However, we estimate a much higher human-caused mortality rate will be required to offset population growth (49.5 percent this year vs. 25.8 percent last year) because the population is lower and should reproduce at a higher rate.”

Mills added, “Note we are proposing the same end-of-year population objective as we did last year, 160 wolves, which means a slight increase in the population (eight wolves) to be sure we continue to remain above minimum recovery criteria, mostly the 10 breeding pairs.”

Mills said Game and Fish will keep the “same approach to depredation response as usual, not more or less aggressive.”

In 2018, predator conflicts declined but about the same number of wolves were removed as in 2017.

“We usually have had around 23-percent human-caused mortality, which includes lethal control in addition to hunting since 2009, so (it is) pretty constant.”

By one vote, Minnesota House moves to ban wolf hunting


By a one-vote margin, the Minnesota House on Tuesday voted to ban hunting on wolves — a victory for wolf protectionists hoping to gird against the Trump administration’s plan to remove protections for the iconic animal.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz said he supports a ban as well

A ban on wolf hunting would be a reversal for Minnesota — the only state in the Lower 48 where the animals were never eradicated and the first to adopt a hunting season when it became legal again several years ago.

Today, wolf hunting isn’t allowed — but only because the animal is on the federal endangered species list. Under current state law, if wolves were removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act — as the Trump administration has announced it plans to seek — they could be hunted as soon as fall 2020, although some think a hunt this fall could be possible.

From 2012 to 2014, hunting and trapping seasons were held on wolves, until a federal judge ruled that the plans of Upper Midwestern states — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan — were inadequate.

Biologists with the Department of Natural Resources have said the wolf population, which is most concentrated in the northeast portion of the state, is stable and able to withstand limited hunting and trapping. In September, the agency estimated the population around 2,655 wolves in 465 wolf packs.


But the question of whether to hunt them has remained divisive and the politics of wolf protections have often crossed party lines.

In broad strokes, metro lawmakers have often opposed hunting, while those in greater Minnesota have tended to be in favor of allowing it. That often has meant Democrats have opposed it, while Republicans have supported a hunt — but that’s an overly simplistic view.

Gov. Mark Dayton, for example, a Minneapolis Democrat, allowed the resumption of hunting in 2014, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also a Minneapolis Democrat and presidential candidate, has been a vocal supporter, often suggesting a “Governor’s Wolf Hunting Opener” when speaking to hunting groups. Each year for years, some lawmaker has proposed banning wolf hunting, but it’s never gained enough traction.

That phenomenon of crossing party lines was on display Tuesday, when state Rep. Rick Hansen, a hunter and one of the leaders of the House Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Caucus on hunting-related issues, announced he would vote in favor of the wolf-hunting ban, but he recommended to his fellow lawmakers, “Vote your districts.” In other words, Hansen said, this issue is beyond mere party unity.

The ban was proposed by Rep. Peter Fischer, DFL-Maplewood, as an amendment to a larger environment and natural resources bill.

The amendment passed 66-65.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Dave Orrick


By ONE VOTE, MN House votes to ban wolf hunting. Here’s how they voted. (Green = a vote in favor of ban.)

16 people are talking about this

The larger environment bill passed 73-60.


The likelihood of the ban becoming law was unclear Tuesday.

The ban is not included in the companion bill that passed the Senate last week, and past attempts to pass a ban in the Senate have failed. Nonetheless, it will now be the subject of negotiations between the two chambers and could be the subject of compromises and horse-trading. The bills vary on numerous issues, ranging from how to regulate deer farms, protection of pollinators, rules regarding pollution, and even how many fishing rods anglers can use.

Gov. Tim Walz, a hunter, doesn’t appear to have publicly stated a position. As of last month, he hadn’t made up his mind, saying only that he wanted a decision to be “thoughtful,” the Minnesota News Network reported. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan’s position wasn’t easily discernible Tuesday, although many suspect that she would support a ban on a wolf hunt, based on her past record as a state lawmaker. She’s also a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe, and American Indian groups have generally been united in opposition to wolf hunting and trapping.A request for clarification on Walz’s and Flanagan’s position from their office wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.

UPDATED: Rep. Shea’s secret group discussed sending severed wolf tail and testicles to environmental activist

Bosworth suggested sending severed wolf parts to environmental activist Kierán Suckling. - GARY KRAMER/USFWS PHOTO

Gary Kramer/USFWS photo
Bosworth suggested sending severed wolf parts to environmental activist Kierán Suckling.

This article has been updated to correct who sent the screenshot with Suckling’s address information, link to the response from Redoubt News, and include the statement from the source who leaked the Signal messages.

By now, Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) and his allies definitely know the name Kierán Suckling. As executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, Suckling has repeatedly been at the opposite side of some of the most heated controversies in Shea’s world. It was Suckling’s group who was battling Cliven Bundy, the cattle rancher who’s defiance led to an armed standoff in 2014. When right-wing militants occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, it was Suckling who showed up to counterprotest. And lately, it’s been Suckling’s group that has been pushing litigation to protect wolves in Washington state.

“Since the ’90s, we have been exposing the connection between anti-environmentalists and the militias and the white supremacist movement,” Suckling says. “These are part and parcel of the same world view.”

Rep. Matt Shea hates wolves, and he’s not too fond of being tied to white supremacists. (Though that didn’t stop him from linking to a white nationalist website to slam a journalist he disliked.)

And so perhaps it’s not surprising that when Shea’s allies discussed targeting specific individuals with the state legislator on the private messaging app Signal, Suckling’s name came up.

The plan being brainstormed? Send the guy severed wolf parts.

Last month, Guardian journalist Jason Wilson wrote a story based on some of these leaked Signal messages, as Shea’s allies reveled in detailed fantasies of violence against local Spokane residents. The revelations sparked bipartisan condemnation in the Washington state Legislature.

Among other moments, Three Percenter Anthony Bosworth — the guy who Shea feted with a “2016 Patriot of the Year” award and sent down to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a “security specialist” to “de-escalate” the standoff — discussed targeting alleged “antifa” members by confronting their parents, their workplaces, their landlords and targeting their “safe spaces”… “while they’re out on the streets rioting.”

“If we can catch a few of them alone and work him over a little bit,” Bosworth wrote, according to the Guardian. While Shea was not quoted directly encouraging violence, he offered to help run background checks for those who were.

In the Spokesman-Review, Bosworth characterized his comments as mere angry venting. The Spokesman reported that many of the comments were made in the lead-up to Nov. 4, 2017, which right-wing groups incorrectly believed would be a day of far-left violence. But previously unpublished chat messages obtained by the Inlander showed that discussions of targeting political opponents continued after the rumored “Antifa Civil War” date fizzled without an incident.

The discussion about targeting Suckling begins on Dec. 12, 2017. Bosworth, using the screen name “Scout,” wants to send Suckling a message.

The image that Anthony Bosworth suggested sending to Suckling, along with severed wolf parts. - SIGNAL SCREENCAP

Signal screencap
The image that Anthony Bosworth suggested sending to Suckling, along with severed wolf parts.

Bosworth posts a picture of a skull and crossbones along with “смерть,” the Russian word for death. The image was the symbol of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (1918), an anarchist guerrilla force that fought against both the Communist Reds and the establishment Whites in the Russian Civil War. Shea’s group had discussed using the symbol as a calling card.

“As far as I’m concerned we can send one of these and a wolf tail to Suckling,” Bosworth writes to the group. “Suckling would make sure it made national news.”

One of the other group members — Jay Pounder, the source who leaked the Signal conversations to the Guardian — posts a screenshot of Suckling’s address and contact information.

“OK, do we have anybody up north to get us a tail?” Bosworth responds.

A redacted version of Suckling's address and contact information, shared in the group with Shea. - SIGNAL SCREENCAP

Signal screencap
A redacted version of Suckling’s address and contact information, shared in the group with Shea.

Pounder then floats the name of Cope Reynolds, a Three Percenter and a gun rights activist who, like Suckling, is based in Arizona. (If you’re assuming Reynolds uses the Confederate flag as his Facebook banner image, you’d be correct.)

“Well, if Cope crossed a wolf he’d smoke it himself,” Bosworth responded.

“These transplanted wolf packs can be traced back through DNA,” Bosworth writes. “Get me the testicles off a North Idaho wolf and I’ll send it to him.”

A dozen minutes later on Signal, Shea — using the screen name Verumbellator — gives Bosworth a warning. To be clear, he doesn’t warn Bosworth that he shouldn’t cut the tail and testicles off a North Idaho wolf corpse to send to environmental activist along with a skull and crossbones.

Instead, he warns Bosworth that they shouldn’t talk about this stuff electronically, and instead they should do it face-to-face.

“This is not something to put out electronically,” Shea writes. “We need to meet f2f.”

(Shea is frequently cautious about information security, once telling a crowd that there are “private investigators that work for the Republican establishment, that actually use technology to hack into your phone.”)

“Roger,” Bosworth responds. And with that, he drops the subject.

It’s possible, of course, that Shea met Bosworth to discourage him from sending a threatening package. But Suckling is skeptical: Why would Shea want to take the conversation offline to tell Bosworth he shouldn’t threaten Suckling.

Either way, Suckling says, he’s never had anyone deliver him anything resembling a wolf tail and testicles. But he argues that just the fact that it was discussed is revealing. In an email, he explained:

“Threatening to mutilate a wolf and mail its bloody body parts is outright psychotic. But it won’t scare the Center for Biological Diversity, it makes us fight harder for the endangered species and people Matt Shea has declared war on. He’s a textbook example of how racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, animal abuse, and anti-environmentalism go hand in hand. Shea should resign or be impeached immediately. His paranoid self-dealing authoritarianism has no place in American democracy.”

Shea’s legislative assistant, Rene’ Holaday, responded to a request for comment with this statement:

“Thank you for writing to the office of Rep. Matt Shea. Rep. Shea is out of town on a Missions trip serving the Lord, and won’t be back for several more days.”

As Shea rarely speaks to the local reporters, instead preferring to bash them from a distance after the story has come out, the Inlander does not anticipate the state representative agreeing to answer questions when he returns. If he does, we will update the story.

Bosworth has so far not agreed to a phone interview with the Inlander, but in an email sent Tuesday morning, he offered the following statement:

“Here’s what I have to say about Wolves and Fine Cigars , ‘smokem if you got them'”

The eco-terrorists can stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Suckling, meanwhile, acknowledges he’s been arrested in civil disobedience actions before, including chaining himself to trees and occupying politician and developer offices, but stresses that these actions were nonviolent.

In that vein, no evidence has surfaced to suggest that Bosworth, Shea or the other members of the Signal chat undertook any of the violent or threatening tactics discussed. Still, the chats are rife with fantasies about violence and destruction toward various individuals and businesses.

“When the Patriot Revolution starts I know what store I’m burning to the ground,” Bosworth writes in a Signal message, linking to a search for “Antifa” products at Walmart.

And Bosworth has become violent in the past, including allegedly getting into a fistfight at a funeral.

Kierán Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity. - COURTESY OF KIERÁN SUCKLING

Courtesy of Kierán Suckling
Kierán Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Suckling says his group has been the victim of arson and violence before.

“We’ve had the militia show up at our office and try to get inside,” Suckling says. “We’ve had a truck [torched] in our parking lot. We’ve had people beaten up over the years.”

He says he won’t be dissuaded by the tactics of Shea and his allies.

“We have to push on and never let this thing deter us from saving endangered species,” Suckling says. “If there’s anything worth dying over it’s stopping the mass extinction that’s going on with this planet right now.”

But not, to Suckling at least, worth killing over.


As of Wednesday morning, Bosworth sent the Inlander link to a post by Redoubt News, a far-right blog that champions the patriot right. It notes that the first version of the Inlander blog incorrectly identified who shared Suckling’s contact information, and also accuses Pounder of using “willing, radical, left-wing extremists to further his own personal grudges against Matt Shea and his friends” and of “using extreme violent rhetoric himself.” It does not, however, provide any proof that the Guardian‘s source had used that rhetoric, nor does it provide any clarity for why Shea wanted to meet Bosworth face-to-face to discuss his wolf-package proposal. (Pounder denies using the incendiary rhetoric quoted by Redoubt News.)

On Wednesday, Pounder released a lengthy statement on Facebook explaining why he leaked the Signal messages. He denies that he was trying to set Shea up — instead, he says that he gradually became disillusioned with the Shea organization and eventually decided to speak up.

Dear Friends,

Right now we face an unprecedented threat to the public safety and security of the Pacific Northwest and that is all due to the threat of Christian Identity Politics, what is that you ask? Check out this article from Christianity Today’s Editor in Chief Mark Galli:

Why this is important and relevant right now, I’ll start in with a scripture… because this week I’ve read many times and it keeps speaking to me;

2 Chronicles 16:7-9: “At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8 Were not the Cushites[b] and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen[c]? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war. 10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.”

Consider that last verse, “Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.”

Well as some of you have read and heard that a series of articles and chats that I was privy to that I released several NW media outlets regarding the activities of a State Rep Matt Shea that I used to be involved with several years ago.

I want to make it evidently clear. I parted ways with State Rep Matt Shea due to his headlong full barrel decent into the world and ideologies of Christian Identity politics and Dominionism. I feel that at the time I followed proper Biblical protocol in addressing what I was seeing and hearing from Matthew and what at that time I considered “my people”. He may differ in opinion. While I volunteered with him, I was caught up in the ideas of identity politics and didn’t know it until God showed me what true freedom and liberty are really about.

I thought I was on the side of what was right, I thought that God was going to use us to save and help the community in the Pacific Northwest to give glory to His name and help bring about a restoration of faith and hope should things get really bad in the world.

Yes, did I say things that I am not proud of because I thought that I was doing God’s will? Yes.

Have I ever done anything illegal? No.

Are they attempting to smear me on alternative media sites with false statements and negative information? Yes, but I forgive them.

Have I gone to those individuals I sinned against and asked forgiveness of them for my words and made it right? Yes I did that a long time ago.

I have because it’s the Biblical thing to do and I know it was the right thing to do. Doing the right thing is incredibly hard to do, but forgiveness is divine and grace is amazing for all that accept it.

Does Matt and his associates believe they are doing the right thing in God’s name? Yes, but in my opinion, this couldn’t be further from what we know to be Christ’s great commission.

In my opinion, Matthew, the Church at Marble Community Fellowship near Northport WA and anyone tied to his spiritual ideology are focused on one thing and one thing; The sheer use of raw power and fear to achieve their political and spiritual ideology that only Christians should lead the United States of America. This is Christian Identity Politics and Dominionism in its purest form and it is dangerous. It’s also idolatry to put politics before the Lord. I am going to reference the following statement by a quote by the aforementioned article on this;

“Yes, a nation is better served by laws influenced by Christian ethics, and yes, we are obliged by love to persuade others of the wisdom of Christian ethics; but we cannot “insist on our own way” (1 Cor. 13:5) by forcing unbelievers to submit to our morals. Yes, borders should be secure, but they can go hand in hand with a generous immigration policy. Yes, every nation is graced with favor from God but also is subject to God’s judgment.”

The focus of Christian Identity politics is to force people to subscribe under pain of death (according to Matt’s Biblical Basis For War and the Remnant Resolves) to the belief in Christianity and should you not, you are the enemy and are demonized for being an “atheist”, “communist”, “Pegan”, “Social Justice Warrior”, “leftwing liberal”, “Benedict Arnold” who must associate with “Antifa” and should be put to death under the Dominionistic / Christian Identity ideology.

Once I uncovered this, I could not and would not stand for those ideals. That is why I released the chats. No one should be subjected to those types of ideals. God loves all.

Why have I kept quiet about this you might ask? Well out of heavy safety concerns for my family and those I hold dear. I had hoped the local media would be able to bring about the truth and that anyone reading this would have already seen and understood that this behavior and ideology is wrong.

By bringing this to the forefront I beg that you all read and understand that this isn’t Christianity. I also hope that by being more public with my statement on this, should anything happen to me or my family or those I hold dearest, those in this movement would be held severely accountable for their actions. We don’t anticipate this, God is sovereign, but this is a rebellion against their theology and now I have gone against “Asa”.

Have I contacted legal counsel should I need it? Yes. I hope to never have to bring any lawsuits against anyone for harassment or physical intimidation. God is sovereign.

My God, our God is a God of love and forgiveness and wants all of you to know that you are loved, and he doesn’t want to kill you if you don’t believe in him. He is not going to bring about civil war and he certainly isn’t going to come on the clouds and bless the USA should the entire sitting body of the government be Christian in belief. Is there a deeper conversation to be had about faith, grace and redemption and what that means, sure, but those conversations are best left for quiet private conversations and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those being talked with.

It is not for us to judge race, creed, ethnicity, sex, orientation or belief. It is for us to love our neighbor and to show them Christ’s love. Everyone is our neighbor and we are instructed to love our neighbor as yourself and not force our neighbor believe like we believe. Once we realize that, then we can allow the holy spirit work and bring about true freedom and spiritual liberty. This cannot and should not be done through force of action or threat of death.

Do I still love Matthew, his associates, Barry and Anne Byrd and the rest of the Marble fellowship people? Yes, absolutely I do, but I still struggle daily with doing this. We are called to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44). I don’t view these people as my enemy but because I am human I have to work each day to love the sinner and hate the sin. I grieve the fact that they would rather demonize someone who doesn’t believe like them rather than engaging in a dialog that could lead to an extraordinary moment. I believe that through pain/struggle, comes healing and restoration and that is what our region and our country needs most right now. We don’t need anger, we don’t need hate, we don’t need division. This has to stop.

In closing, I hope that as you have read this statement you understand that I am not the same man who thought he was serving the right cause, but now stand in front of you begging you to see that the leadership in Olympia represented in the Spokane Valley area is on a path that will spiritually destroy people and soul of this region. Left unchecked it will also physically destroy it someday as well if their plan is enacted.

Some will read this and view this as a political stunt. It isn’t, it’s so much bigger than just the man in office. Yes, this does have major political ramifications, but this is about the soul of the area. Christian Identity Politics and Dominionism has no place in our region, it does not fulfill the great commission. It does not encourage healthy dialog between groups who believe differently. It does not encourage those without a voice to speak up and it certainly doesn’t bring people together to work towards better communities. It goes against everything this country was founded on.

Know that what you feel is right, this isn’t ok. Go with your heart, do what’s right and know that you are loved by the King of the Universe who has a plan for your life despite whatever your background may be.

Special Note: This will be my only statement on this situation, I will take no media inquiries nor answer any questions or engage in nonproductive dialog regarding this post. Any and all threats regarding this post, attempts at physical intimidation, veiled threats to my business ventures will all be forwarded to my council for consideration and prosecution should the need be.

$12 to Kill a Wolf in Montana

Center for Biological Diversity

APR 27, 2019 — 

$19 is apparently too high a sticker price for the privilege of killing a wolf in Montana. A new state proposal would cut the cost of a wolf-hunting license to just $12.

This sick disdain for wolves, literally cheapening their lives, once pushed them to the brink of extinction. The same forces who see wolves as target practice want to spread this mentality nationwide.

They must be stopped, and you can help.

The administration’s plan to take away Endangered Species Act protection from most wolves in the lower 48 would expose the animals to more hunting, more trapping, more shattered packs.

In some places it would cost more to go to the movies than to slaughter a wolf.

Idaho is even paying trappers to kill them.

These states are showing how little they care for wildlife and how easy they want to make it for wolves to be shot.

This is the war on wolves the Trump administration is encouraging states to wage.

The job of wolf recovery is far from over, which is why we’re pushing hard for a national recovery plan.


The Future of Wolves in Washington: Will they ever be just another critter in the woods?

[Article by contributing writer Melissa Grant,wildlife/outdoor enthusiast and pet trainer/owner of Miss Lola’s Academy for Wayward Dogs]

Out here in the Snoqualmie Valley we fancy ourselves as outdoor wildlife savvy people. We chuckle when we hear of hikers being afraid of animals on the trail. We’ve even been known to openly scoff at those who come unprepared for close encounters of the wild kind. We know how to handle ourselves when it comes to bears, coyotes or even cougars!

In 2015 a lone wolf was killed on I-90 and people thought its presence was a fluke. Well, another was seen on camera on the North Fork in 2018. So, valley residents, are you ready for wolves in the Snoqualmie Valley?

Last week the statewide wolf specialist, Benjamin Maletzke, with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was the guest speaker at the monthly Upper Valley Elk Management Groups meeting.  He was there to tell us about the Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2018 annual report.

Like the previous year the plan’s objective are to:

  • Restore self-sustaining wolf populations
  • Maintain healthy ungulate populations
  • Manage wolf-livestock conflicts
  • Develop public understanding and promote co-existence

But while the plan’s objectives remain the same, some of the wolf numbers have changed. Last year there were at least 122 wolves in the state, making up 22 packs with 16 breeding pairs. This year Washington was home to at least 126 wolves, 27 packs and 15 successful breeding pair. (This is a minimum count, so the number in Washington is likely higher).

This year four wolves were lethally removed for wolf-caused livestock deaths. In 2017 three were removed for the same offense. According to the report, the WDFW spent $1,217,326 on wolf management activities during the 2018 fiscal year, compared to $1,272,314 last year.

Six new packs formed – one very close to the Teanaway Pack, the closest one to the Snoqualmie Valley; one pack disbanded; and the first wolf pack of the modern era was confirmed in Western Washington. In 2017 a lone wolf was found and collared in Skagit county. In 2018 the same wolf was found to be traveling with another wolf (a pack is two individuals traveling together) and the Diobsub Creek pack was born, named for the area in which they spend their time.

Some of this new information got me asking Ben questions about the likelihood that someday we might have wolves in the Snoqualmie Valley. His reply was unsurprising to me, but might surprise others:

It is possible. Just outside of the residential development in the valley is a large expanse of managed forest, state and federal lands with deer and elk.  I don’t know exactly where we might see wolves settle in the future, but I think that wildland is a possible area”

The Valley is a large area. The school district counts the valley as being from Ames Lake to the Pass, 400 sq. miles. So, how many wolves would live here with us? 25? 50? I couldn’t ask him to definitively predict the future, but asked him to opine based on the space, average pack and territory size. Said Maletzke,

If wolves settled there, they would be in packs that occupy around 300 – 350 sq. miles.  The packs don’t overlap in their use of space and the average pack size in Washington is around 4 wolves/pack.”

 Oh, ok so using my rudimentary math skills, I can see the number would be much less than 50 and probably closer to 4.

During the meeting someone asked about an incident in June in which a Forest Service worker doing a research survey was treed by a pack of wolves and was rescued by a DNR helicopter.

At the time the coverage was sparse, but basically told a tale of a woman who happened upon a wolf rendezvous site (home or activity sites where weaned pups are brought from the den until they are old enough to join adult wolves in hunting activity), felt unsafe when she heard the wolves, tried to scare them off with bear spray and then climbed the tree to escape.

Maletzke said the woman heard the wolves barking at her when she first went into the area, but didn’t know that was their way of telling her to go away. When asked if it was fair to say that she went in with good intentions and good tools, but maybe not complete information on what to look for, how to behave etc.? He replied:

I think your interpretation is correct.  Similar to domestic dogs or horses, animals have warning signs that can tell you if you are in their space (pinning ears, baring teeth, barking, or growling.) In this instance the woman happened to be working near a rendezvous site where the pups were. The wolves wanted her to leave so they barked at her. Instead of leaving, she climbed a tree to feel safe and called for assistance. If a similar occurrence happened it would be best to just hike out of the area.”

Trust me, I am not one to throw stones. While I would hope I’d do the right thing given the same circumstances, I have yet to confront a pack of wolves, which led me to my next question. Is this the only human/wolf encounter of its kind you know of in the state in recent years? The answer to that was thankfully: “Yes, that I know of.”

He gave out some great pamphlets at the meeting about Washington’s Wolves (you can get yours at and to me it looked like the advice for a wolf encounter is basically the same as for a bear encounter. He agreed. So if you are lucky enough to see one of these creatures – or just hike in an area where they might be – the advice is to:

  • Stay calm and do not run
  • Stand tall and make yourself look larger
  • Slowly back away and maintain eye contact
  • Keep dogs on leash
  • Carry bear spray
  • Hike in groups

An encounter would be extraordinarily rare as wolves generally fear and avoid people. The risk to human safety is low.

Wolf – part of the Naneum pack.

I do know another concern people have is the risk to our domesticated animals. What about dogs, cats and livestock? What can we do to keep them safe? For dogs he said to keep them on leash when hiking, always good advice. As far as livestock goes what doesn’t work is-

Leaving carcasses or bone piles in the back of the pasture, leaving garbage and food rewards out, not cleaning up afterbirth during a calving operation.  This stuff can lure carnivores in from a long way away. Sanitation can help avoid these interactions with carnivores.”

He suggested taking a look at their website here for more information on protecting livestock.

I must admit I welcome the idea of wolves in the valley. So, I was pretty easy to convince they wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve done a fair bit of research and reading on wild carnivores in the past and am convinced they are not any more of a problem than our bears and cougars. In fact, I think they are an important part of a healthy ecosystem and would do our valley a world of good. If you are unconvinced or just curious you can read the wolf report with the link provided above or watch it on YouTube below.

Let us know if you agree with Ben that wolves are just another critter in the woods or believe they should never be allowed back in the area.

You can also contact Benjamin Maletzke, Statewide Wolf Specialist Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at

There is an online reporting tool if you would like to report a wolf sighting or you can call 1-877-933-9847.

Location of WA State Wolf packs

Mexican wolf count indicates that true recovery is distant

  APR 8, 2019

Commentary: Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that 131 Mexican gray wolves survive in the wilds of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The annual count shows a small increase from last year’s count of 114. The Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team deployed in February and found at least 64 wolves in Arizona and 67 wolves in New Mexico. The population is divided into 32 known packs along with a number of solo wolves. The relatively slow growth of the population is not surprising, given extraordinarily high Mexican wolf mortalities in 2018 and political sideboards too narrowly constraining the recovery strategy for the endangered species.

“Until the illegal killings are stopped and the gene pool is supplemented by the release of bonded adult pairs with pups, we can expect the same slow growth,” said Christopher Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “My hope is that the state of New Mexico exemplifies new leadership in aiding the recovery of our iconic lobo—a proactive role by the Department of Game and Fish and the banning of traps in the Mexican wolf recovery area are good ways to start.”

A deeply flawed “recovery” plan released by the Trump administration in November 2017 and the looming threat of an anti-wildlife border wall increase the risk of extinction for the genetically fragile wild population.

“Trump’s border wall poses a huge threat to the Mexican gray wolf. Our population of Mexican wolves in the U.S. simply does not have enough genetic diversity to be healthy over time,” said Amanda Munro, field organizer for Southwest Environmental Center. “Genetic exchange with populations in Mexico is key to the long-term survival of our wolves. No matter if it’s made of concrete or steel, or if it’s called a wall or a fence, a border wall would make that genetic exchange impossible. It would separate the Mexico and U.S. populations forever, and increase the risk of our lobo going locally extinct.”

Mexican gray wolves continue to suffer from illegal killings that have resulted in very few limited enforcement actions. There were 21 documented wolf mortalities in 2018, the highest number since the recovery program began in 1998. Many mortalities remain unexplained, but human-caused mortalities persist as the biggest threat to recovery. In New Mexico, at least 5 lobos have been caught in traps since November 2018. One endangered wolf died and another lost a leg. The New Mexico legislature failed to pass House Bill 366, which would have banned trapping on public land in the state.

The current recovery plan relies solely on cross-fostering wolf pups into wild dens. Evidence suggests that this strategy alone is insufficient to effectively increase genetic diversity. Due to political pressure, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not plan to release any adult wolves into the wild. The best available science suggests that releasing well-bonded adult pairs with pups is the most effective way to increase genetic diversity and speed recovery efforts.

“We desperately need to release more Mexican wolves from the captive population into the wild to both increase numbers on the ground and allow essential genes to contribute to the wild population,” said Kelly Nokes, a wildlife attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. “This critically imperiled species is relying on us to bring them back from the brink of extinction.”


The lobo, or Mexican wolf, is the smallest, most genetically distinct, and one of the rarest subspecies of gray wolf. The species was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1978, but recovery efforts have largely foundered because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to implement scientifically recommended recovery actions.

Although lobos once widely roamed across the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, the Mexican wolf was purposefully eradicated from the U.S. on behalf of American livestock, hunting, and trapping interests. Recognizing the Mexican gray wolf’s extreme risk of extinction, the Service listed it on the federal endangered species list in 1976.

In 1998, after the few remaining wolves were put into captivity in an attempt to save the species, the Service released 11 Mexican wolves to a small area on the border of Arizona and New Mexico now known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The program has limped along ever since, with illegal killings and sanctioned removals subverting recovery.

Mexican wolves are at tremendous risk due to their small population size, limited gene pool, threats from trapping, Wildlife Services’ activities, and illegal killings.

Wolves back in Netherlands after 140 years

The Netherlands has its first resident wolf population in 140 years, according to ecologists.

Wolves were hunted out of many European countries over a century ago but have gradually been migrating back across the continental mainland.

Occasional wolf sightings have been made in the Netherlands since 2015.

But these animals were previously thought to be animals that had crossed over temporarily from Germany and would subsequently return there.

Ecologists from campaign groups FreeNature and Wolven in Nederland have been tracking two females in the Veluwe area, collecting wolf prints and scat (droppings) from which they can identify DNA.

“It’s like Tinder,” said ecologist Mirte Kruit, “it can say if it’s a male or female, are they single and looking for a mate and [tell you] about their family.”

They’ve told BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth that their data now confirms one of the females has stayed continuously for six months and can now be considered “established”.

A male has also been seen in the area so the first Dutch wolf pack could be months away. They are still collecting data on the second female.

Controversial return

Wolves are controversial, however. In France, since returning from Italy in 1992, their population has grown rapidly and sheep and goat farmers say they’re suffering rising attacks, with around 12,000 incidents reported.

Farmers can receive compensation if they have protection measures in place, like electric fences or guard dogs, but many are still angry about the damage caused to the flock.

The French Government formed a cohabitation plan and in February last year set a target wolf population of 500 by 2023. However its thought this number may be reached or surpassed by this Winter and it’s proposing to increase the cull rate from 12% to 17% if that’s confirmed.

Wolves are protected under the Berne convention and can only be killed under specific circumstances.

Costing the Earth presenter Tom Heap travelled to Alpes de Haute Provence to meet some of those affected. The region has 22 wolf packs – the largest of any region – and last year the region saw 700 attacks.

Farmer Simon Merveille said he witnessed one of his goats being eaten by wolves.

“I was astonished because when I fired a warning shot they just stayed looking at me – they did not leave,” he explained.

Mr Merveille is happy for wolves to remain in France but believes farmers must be allowed to kill them when they attack livestock.

Andre Maurelle and Ingrid Briclot, who also farm in the region, saw three wolves killing five of their sheep and taking a sixth.

They have now installed 12km of electric fences and have an apprentice shepherd, Mady, who is used to guarding cattle from lions and snakes in Mali.

“We have to learn to cohabit,” said Mr Maurelle.

Back in Holland, Wolven in Nederland have been working since 2008 to prepare the Dutch people for this very moment – the return of the wolf to the country.

Ecologist Roeland Vermeulen says settled wolves are more likely to eat deer or wild boar. Sheep, on the other hand, are “like junk food”, taken by roaming wolves or those less experienced at hunting.

He thinks the Netherlands has room for 22 packs – each of 5-8 wolves. Whether the country can learn from others and find a suitable balance will become apparent in the years to come.

Costing the Earth: The Wolf is Back is on BBC Sounds and on Radio 4 tomorrow at 9pm BST.

WDFW gives update on latest wolf numbers, including new pack in Western Washington, but not all are thrilled by count

Sat., April 6, 2019, 5 a.m.

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The male member of the new Diobsud Creek pack in Skagit County. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife / Courtesy)

Washington’s wolf population continued to grow in 2018, with a pack documented west of the Cascade crest for the first time.

A minimum of 126 wolves, 27 packs and 15 breeding pairs were counted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during their annual winter survey.

The population increased 3 percent from last year, a lower growth rate than previous years. But as wolves fill the habitat in northeast Washington, Ben Maletzke, WDFW statewide wolf specialist, said that overall population growth will slow.

“The number of wolves isn’t going to significantly change in that area (northeast) probably for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The next big jump in wolf numbers will come when more packs establish themselves in the western portion of the state.

Agency staff presented the wolf report to the WDFW Commission, a governor-appointed supervisory body, Friday in Olympia.

The big news was the pack west of the Cascades.

A single male, originally captured in Skagit County in 2016, traveled with a female wolf through the winter in the North Cascades meeting the state’s criteria for the formation of a pack. Biologists named the pack the Diobsud Pack.

Biologist also confirmed the presence of wolves in the south Cascades, although no pack activity has been documented yet.

In 2017, there were a minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs documented statewide.

Wolf numbers grew despite the fact that in 2018 six wolves were killed legally by tribal hunters, four were killed by WDFW in response to livestock attacks and two apparent human-caused deaths remain under investigation.

Meanwhile, wolves killed at least 11 cattle and one sheep, and injured an additional 19 cattle and two sheep.

Overall, only five of the 27 known packs were involved in livestock depredations, Maletzke said.

“Eighty-one percent of them are doing good things,” he told the commission.

In an emailed statement, Conservation Northwest called the discovery of a pack west of the Cascades a “milestone” and “indication of the continued recovery of wolves in our state.”

Not everyone was thrilled, though, and some questioned the department’s methodology.

Jake Nelson, a rancher on the Lone Ranch grazing allotment in Ferry County, lost two calves and one cow to wolf attacks last year. He received monetary compensation from the state. He questioned the overall number of wolves and WDFW’s reported number of wolf attacks on livestock.

“I would have to argue with those numbers,” he said.

He knows ranchers who believe they lost 10 or more cattle to wolves in 2018.

Jay Shepherd, a founder of the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, agreed that the overall number of wolf depredations seemed low. The WDFW report only lists confirmed depredations, not probable ones.

“It could well be there were 11 confirmed,” he said. “That still seems low. But confirmed and probables combined were through the roof.”

It will only be worse in 2019, Nelson said.

“We have more wolves. We have more confirmed packs now. We have a whole bunch of packs that are habituated cattle killers,” he said. “I look for it to be a lot worse than last year.”

A number of wolf-related bills were brought forward during this year’s legislative session hoping to reduce conflicts in 2019.

A proposal that passed the house and is currently in the Senate would directWDFW to develop different management plans for wolves in different regions of the state, with more support to control wolves in the part of the state where they are rapidly multiplying.

The bill would also direct the state to spend nearly $1 million over the next two years on nonlethal ways to keep wolves from killing livestock in northeast Washington, where the majority of the state’s wolves live.

The numbers reported by WDFW are a minimum count. In 2018, researchers at the University of Washington, using scat-sniffing dogs, said the number of wolves in the state could be closer to 200.

During the commission meeting, staff said the methods used by UW and WDFW are “apples and oranges.”

“There are more wolves out there,” Donny Martorello, the department’s top wolf specialist, told the commission. “We know this is the minimum.”

Wolves are protected by state endangered species rules in the eastern third of the state, while they remain federally protected in the western two-thirds of the state.

According to the state’s wolf recovery plan, wolves can be delisted after 15 successful breeding pairs are documented for three consecutive years, or after officials document 18 breeding pairs in one year.

Under either scenario, the pairs have to be distributed evenly throughout the state’s three wolf management areas.

Meanwhile, two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against WDFW alleging, among other things, that the agency is not using the latest science to make wolf management decisions and is in violation of the state’s environmental policy act.

Chris Bachman, the wildlife program director at the Spokane-based Lands Council, celebrated the news and said it was an indicator that wolf populations were reaching a healthy level. However, he didn’t go as far as saying that northeast Washington had reached capacity.

He said lethal removal of wolves that have attacked cattle remains an issue. He believes how the National Forest and ranchers interact need to change. Right now, he said, cows are being put into a forest with limited forage, which forces them to disperse and makes them an easier target.

“We need to be changing what we’re doing on the ground with livestock in the forest,” Bachman said after attending Friday’s meeting. “We can ride WDFW all we want about having to go in and lethally remove wolves, but Forest Service policy has to be adjusted.”

 WDFW News Release: Washington’s wolf population increases for 10th straight year



Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091 

April 4, 2019

Contact: Donny Martorello, 360-790-5682

Ben Maletzke, 509-933-6086 

Washington’s wolf population increases for 10th straight year

OLYMPIA – The recovery of Washington’s wolf population continued in 2018 as numbers of individual wolves, packs, and successful breeding pairs reached their highest levels since wolves were virtually eliminated from the state in the 1930s.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today published its annual year-end report, which shows the state has a minimum of 126 individual wolves, 27 packs, and 15 successful breeding pairs – male and female adults who have raised at least two pups that survived through the end of the year. A year ago, those numbers were 122, 22, and 14, respectively.

In 2018, for the first time, WDFW documented the presence of a pack west of the Cascade Crest. A single male wolf in Skagit County, captured in 2016 and fitted with a radio collar, has been traveling with a female wolf through the winter, thereby achieving pack status. Biologists chose the pack’s name – Diobsud Creek.

“We’re pleased to see our state’s wolf population continue to grow and begin to expand to the west side of the Cascades,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “We will continue to work with the public to chart the future management of this important native species.”

Information and survey findings are compiled from state, tribal, and federal wildlife specialists based on aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks, and signals from radio-collared wolves. As in past years, the annual count provides estimates of the minimum numbers of wolves in the state, because it is not possible to count every wolf.

Virtually eliminated from the state by the 1930s, Washington’s gray wolf population has rebounded since 2008, when WDFW wildlife managers documented a resident pack in Okanogan County. Most packs occupy land in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties in the northeast corner of the state, but the survey revealed increasing numbers in Washington’s southeast corner and the north-central region.

Although the 2018 annual count showed a modest increase in individual wolves, the upturn in new packs and breeding pairs in those areas set the stage for more growth this year, said Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy lead.

“Packs and breeding pairs are the building blocks of population growth,” Martorello said. ‘It’s reassuring to see our wolf population occupying more areas of the landscape.”

State management of wolves is guided by the department’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which establishes standards for wolf-management actions. 

Since 1980, gray wolves have been listed under state law as endangered throughout Washington. In the western two-thirds of the state, they are classified as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

As required for all state-listed species, WDFW is currently conducting a periodic status review of the state’s gray wolf population to evaluate the species’ listing status, Martorello said.

“The state’s wolf management plan lays out a variety of recovery objectives, but the ultimate determination of a species’ listing status is whether it remains at risk of failing or declining,” Martorello said.

The 2018 annual count reflects the net one-year change in Washington’s wolf population after accounting for births, deaths, and wolves that have traveled into or out of Washington to form new packs or join existing ones. In 2018, two wolves dispersed with one forming the Butte Creek pack in southeastern Washington while the other wolf traveled through Oregon down to Idaho.  


WDFW also recorded 12 wolf deaths during 2018. Six (6) were legally killed by tribal hunters; four (4) were killed by WDFW in response to repeated wolf-caused livestock deaths; and two (2) other mortalities apparently were caused by humans and remained under investigation at year’s end.

Ben Maletzke, WDFW statewide wolf specialist, said the 2018 annual report reinforces the profile of wolves as a highly resilient, adaptable species whose members are well-suited to Washington’s rugged, expansive landscape. He said their numbers in Washington have increased by an average of 28 percent per year since 2008.

“Wolves routinely face threats to their survival – from humans, other animals, and nature itself,” he said. “But despite each year’s ups and downs, the population in Washington has grown steadily and probably will keep increasing by expanding their range in the north and south Cascades of Washington.”

Maletzke said the 2018 survey documented six packs formed in 2018 – Butte Creek, Nason, OPT, Sherman, Diobsud Creek and Nanuem – while one pack, Five Sisters, disbanded due to unknown causes.

With funding support from state lawmakers, WDFW has steadily increased its efforts to collaborate with livestock producers, conservation groups, and local residents to minimize conflict between wolves and livestock and other domestic animals, Maletzke said. 

WDFW used several strategies last year to prevent and minimize conflicts, including cost-sharing agreements with 31 ranchers who worked with WDFW to protect their livestock. State financial and technical assistance helped to support the use of conflict prevention measures which included range riders to check on livestock, guard dogs, lighting, flagging for fences, and data sharing on wolf movements.

Maletzke said five of the 27 packs known to exist in Washington last year were involved in at least one livestock mortality. WDFW investigators confirmed wolves killed at least 11 cattle and one sheep and injured another 19 cattle and two sheep. WDFW processed five livestock damage claims totaling $7,536 to compensate producers for direct wolf-caused livestock losses and one indirect claim for $5,950, which compensates the producer for reduced weight gains and other factors associated with wolf-livestock interaction.

Consistent with the Wolf Plan and the department’s Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol, WDFW used lethal measures to remove individual wolves from three packs after non-lethal measures failed to deter them from preying on livestock. WDFW euthanized two members of the OPT pack, and one member apiece from the Togo and Smackout packs.

Contributors to WDFW’s annual report include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, the Confederated Colville Tribes and the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

The report will be reviewed with the state Fish and Wildlife Commission when it meets April 5-6 in Olympia. That meeting and a discussion about the report will be broadcast live at The survey report will be posted on WDFW’s website by April 5 at

WDFW photo of the male member of the new Diobsud Creek pack in Skagit County:

Wolf population chart available at: