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People who think they've seen a wolf, heard one howl or found other evidence of wolves in Washington have a new place to share their story: a website to document wolf activity and help state wildlife officials manage the species.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will use citizen reports to help locate new wolf packs and pups during the spring and summer and capture and fit wolves with radio collars to monitor their movements, said Donny Martorello, the agency's carnivore section manager.
"Our state's wolf-management efforts depend on knowing how many wolves are here, where they are, and where they're going," Martorello said in a statement Friday. "By filing reports on wolf activities, the public can help us direct our monitoring efforts."
State wildlife officials have been working since 2007 to determine how best to recover wolves in their historic territory and ultimately delist them from endangered species protections, while reducing and managing wolf conflicts with livestock and humans.
Wolves migrated to Washington from Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia, though they are listed as endangered throughout Washington under state law and as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state under federal law.
Currently, five wolf packs have been documented in the state, all in eastern Washington. Three reside in the northeast corner, with one in north-central Washington's Methow Valley and the fifth in the Teanaway Valley of Kittitas County. Wolves have been sighted in southeast Washington's Blue Mountains, where they are believed to be crossing between Washington and Oregon.
A wolf management plan approved late last year requires 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years to remove endangered species protections. Four breeding pairs would be required in eastern Washington, the North Cascades and the South Cascades or Northwest coast, as well as three other pairs anywhere in the state.
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