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Washington Hopes to Coexist With Growing Number of Wolf Packs

The state of Washington is navigating the complex politics of wildlife protection—in this case, wildlife means the territory of an estimated 16 wolf packs.
December 16, 2015, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Eric Wagner reports on the tense, ongoing debate over the habitation of wolves in the state of Washington. Wagner begins the article by recounting an encounter between the "Dirty Shirt" wolf pack in July 2015 that left four cattle dead. Instead of killing the animals, wildlife officials moved the wolves to a different part of their territory. Wagner explains the incident's importance:

"And even though tempers still simmer, the incident shows the difference between wolf recovery in the Northwest compared to the Rocky Mountains or the Southwest. Washington, with its generally more progressive politics, was able to adopt policies that would have had little traction in the Interior West. But even here, thanks to stark urban-rural political divides, the effort’s successes come by way of a very delicate and ongoing balancing act."

The article details the political map that corresponds to the 68 wolves and 16 known packs that live in Washington. That number has a lot to do with the state's management plan, adopted in 2011, "which explicitly aims to expand the wolf population rather than limit or destroy it, and adopts the region’s most ambitious recovery goals," according to Wagner. But the state is split along strong rural vs. urban political lines on the issue. 

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Published on Monday, October 26, 2015 in High Country News
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