Federal and state biologists are looking into the possibility that there may be wolves in eastern Skagit County.
Spokeswoman Ann Froschauer says it’s too early for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm that reported tracks, howls and photos mean wolves have indeed arrived on the west side of the North Cascades or how many there might be, but in recent weeks her agency and WDFW biologists have been following up on good leads.
Froschauer says that in mid-May, a resident reported a suspected depredation of their chickens by a wolf and had pictures to back it up.
The resident told investigators that they had heard howling and seen tracks for a couple months beforehand too, according to Froschauer.
“Follow-up conversations with other area residents included reports of additional sightings, tracks, and howling in the area,” she adds.
Froschauer says the howling is “suggestive of multiple wolves.”
“Biologists attempted to capture one or more animals over the next week and a half without success. We have deployed trail cameras, and will continue to investigate reports of wolf activity in the area,” Froschauer says.
Capturing one would help determine if the animal was a purebred wolf, hybrid or something else.
And if proven to be a wolf, it could mean the first pack in Western Washington outside of the British Columbia-denning pack that haunted the Hozomeen area of Washington’s upper Ross Lake in recent years.
Froschauer says USFWS and WDFW get multiple unconfirmed reports of Westside wolves annually, and says at least four individuals are known to have traveled from their packs west across the Cascade Crest at one point or another.
“Wolves have continued to naturally recolonize the state via dispersal from resident Washington packs and neighboring states and provinces,” she says.
Wolves west of Highways 97, 17 and 395 are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act and managed by USFWS. Those east of that line are managed by WDFW and state listed.