State's wolf numbers jump despite recent killings, advocacy group says

OLYMPIA -- The number of wolves in Washington keeps climbing despite recent killings by the state, a wildlife advocacy group says.

There are now 145 wolves in Washington state, up from 125 the year before, according to the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife.

This is reportedly according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife report released Monday tracking the number of gray wolves.  Q13 News has not yet received a copy of the report.

Despite the increase in wolves, the number of wolf packs in the state fell from 27 to 26 over the last year, Defenders of Wildlife says. WDFW also counted 10 breeding pairs in the state, down from 11 in 2018.

The increase is despite fish and wildlife authorizing the lethal removal of nine wolves in 2019 that were considered to be in direct conflict with livestock. A total of 21 wolf fatalities were recorded last year.

A Defenders of Wildlife spokesperson says the animal's future in the state is still in doubt.

"Wolves still face an uncertain future in Washington state, as progress has been slow for wolves dispersing to large amount of sustainable habitats in the southern and western portions of the state," Zoe Hanley with Defenders of Wildlife says.

This story will be updated when Q13 News receives a copy of the wolf report.