What may have been a wild wolf was struck and killed by a vehicle between North Bend and Snoqualmie Pass in eastern King County.
A U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service official in Portland says this morning that yesterday WDFW notified them that a wolf may have been hit on I-90, and that state employees recovered the carcass of the uncollared, untagged and black-coated female “suspected” wolf.
USFWS spokesman Brent Lawrence said the animal was located between mile markers 41 and 42, which is between Exit 38, the road to the Washington State Fire Training Academy and Exit 42, which leads to the U.S. Forest Service’s Tinkham Campground.
Posters on Hunting-Washington also report seeing a wolf in that general vicinity on Monday.
The carcass has since been sent to a federal forensics lab for DNA testing and cause of death determination, according to Lawrence.
USFWS has jurisdiction over the species in the western two-thirds of the state, where wolves remain federally listed.
WDFW’s wolf observation map includes numerous citizen reports from further west in Washington, but this could represent the most westward confirmed advance of the species, a not-unexpected development, but one also of note. “Wolves are able to cover long distances, and expansion into the western part of Washington is not unexpected,” said Lawrence. “In other areas of the country with healthy wolf populations, wolves are occasionally struck by vehicles attempting to cross roadways.”
WSDOT and other partners have been working to build wildlife-friendly passages on the east side of Snoqualmia Pass.
As it stands, if confirmed as a wild wolf, it would be at least the fourth that’s been struck and killed by a vehicle in Washington. Others include one near Tum Tum west of Spokane in 2008, another on the north side of Blewett Pass in 2013 and the other Ruby Creek female in Pend Oreille County last year.
This time of year sees loners leave their packs. Recently, one from Northeast Oregon tripped through South-central Washington before turning south and recrossing the Columbia; currently it is somewhere in Oregon’s Central Cascades. Another Beaver State wolf is reported in Malheur County.
The Teanaway Pack of northwestern Kittitas County is the closest to where yesterday’s carcass was recovered. It has had gray pups, and while wolf coats come in different shades, several packs in Northeast Washington and Northeast Oregon are known to produce black pups. Presumably some in southern BC do too.
IN OTHER WOLF news today, WDFW released a trail camera image of one just north of Hozomeen Campground in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area in January. The agency also reported on inconclusive investigations into a reported attack on a dog in Okanogan County and sightings on the east side of the Southern Cascades.