NORTH BEND, Wash. — Officials with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife have been getting reports for years that wolves were making their way across the Cascades and into Western Washington. Now they have proof.
A lot of people in North Bend are talking about the wolf spotted on Interstate 90 earlier this week.
“What has happened is the wolves that were in the Teanaway area are starting to move along the ridge and have ended up on Exit 38,” Kevin Roberts said Thursday.
“Somebody else says they saw it Sunday by that exit on the side of the road,” added Karin Lester. “So that might have been the one that got hit.”
A driver hit and killed the animal Monday.
The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife is now examining the body, to see if they can figure out exactly where it came from.
“This is the first documented wolf in Western Washington that we’ve had,” said Dave Ware, the wolf policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The gray wolf is on the endangered species list. The state has been working on conservation efforts for years, and expected that at some point the recovering packs would begin to cross the Cascades.
“The biologist in me says this is pretty exciting to see wolves back in Western Washington,” said Ware, “but the manager in me says it’s probably going to be a challenge as well.”
That’s because the animals are now moving into more populated areas, where encounters with people, their pets and livestock could be an issue.
Karin Lester said she might have to be more cautious the next time she goes hiking with her friend.
“She has bear spray and she does have a pistol, but we’ve never taken it before.”
Roberts said he’s not worried about his safety, but he is worried about the wolves. He doesn’t want to see any more killed on the roadways.
“What officials might want to do is what they’re doing with the elk. They’re taking them and they’re putting collars on a lead cow and then trying to figure out where their routes are, so they can eliminate them getting hit on the freeway.”
The Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to know if you see a wolf or hear one howling, so they can investigate. Their reporting website is http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/reporting/sightings.html