"}
Outdoors

Wolves in the Land of Salmon

Tracking canis lupus’ return to the Northwest

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Last month, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife released findings from their 2012 statewide survey of gray wolf populations, confirming “at least 51 wolves in nine wolf packs with a total of five successful breeding pairs.” This represents an astounding doubling of the number of wolves in the Evergreen State in one year.

Reports of canis lupus moving back into Cascadia have been scattered in media over the past several years. People have heard their distinctive howls from Hozomeen on the Canadian border to Teanaway, less than 100 miles east of Seattle. Their reappearance and rapid distribution have taken many by surprise, with developments happening so quickly it’s been a challenge to keep up with the latest news.

Enter Wolves in the Land of Salmon by Carnation-based naturalist, author and educator David Moskowitz. In his new book, he pulls together the many strands of wolf recovery in the Pacific Northwest—natural history, politics, landscape variables—into an invaluable compendium of up-to-date information, written in an exceedingly straightforward, scientific and balanced manner.

Moskowitz, a trained tracker sensitive to reading signs on the land, takes the reader on a journey from the perspective of the wolf, and his writing is informed by on-the-ground experiences as he seeks to better understand our new packs across varied regions including the North Cascades, Blue Mountains, Selkirks, and Columbia Highlands.

Christian Martin: Why have wolves suddenly appeared in so many areas across Washington?
David Moskowitz: Wolf populations can grow quite quickly once they establish a foothold in a landscape. They have a high reproductive rate for a large carnivore. Young adults will either disperse to adjacent areas to where they were born or they may travel several hundred miles before settling down.

CM: Are there benefits to Washington wolves repopulating naturally as opposed to translocation?
DM: Allowing wolves to naturally repopulate in the state is less expensive and less likely to trigger people who are suspicious of the government and its intentions related to managing landscapes.

CM: What are some of the differences between wolves most people are used to hearing about in the Rocky Mountains versus the ones repopulating Washington from coastal British Columbia?
DM: There is far more similar than different between wolves across the Pacific Northwest. However, coastal wolves are currently classified as a different subspecies than the wolves that occupy the interior of our region.  Ecologically, they have adapted to the unique coastal rainforest habitat. This shows up in their behavior—traveling along shorelines and swimming between islands extensively. It also shows up in their diet.

CM: What are the benefits to our local ecosystems in having wolves back in the web?
DM: How wolves alter ecosystem dynamics in the state will really depend on how we manage wolves, including how many wolves we allow to persist and where we accept their presence.

Their influence on the behavior and population of game animals such as deer and elk is the biggest way that they influence ecosystem dynamics. Large ungulates can significantly deteriorate many aspects of a landscape in large numbers over time without predators. A recovered population of wolves, paired with the presence of other large carnivores, can shift how prey species use the landscape, change population sizes of prey species and change the foraging behavior of prey species.

These changes in turn affect how herbivores impact plant communities, potentially allowing trees and shrubs in sensitive habitats to rebound, which can lead to increased habitat value for a wide variety of other species such as birds and beavers. Changes in these species of wildlife in turn cause more ecological ripples across an ecosystem.

CM: What do you see as the biggest obstacles to wolf recovery in Washington?
DM: The biggest obstacles to wolf recovery are deciding as a society how we wish to accommodate wolves in the state. Humans extirpated wolves from the state very intentionally in the 20th century. The only reason they have now returned is because our society as a whole has decided to tolerate their presence again. Finding a path for wolf management will be a continual challenge.

CM: Do you think that Washington is taking wolf recovery in the right direction?
DM: Washington’s Wolf Management Plan is probably the most progressive and scientifically and socially well-thought-out management plan of any western state currently. If the state follows the guidelines for managing wolves in the state set out in this plan, wolf populations will almost certainly recover across much of the state, there will still be a huge livestock industry in the state and people will still have ample deer and elk hunting opportunities.

ICU
More Outdoors...
Recreation Roundup
An all-season outdoor expo

As I write these words from my perch on the sixth floor of the Herald Building, it’s early February and our corner of the world is blanketed in approximately six inches of still-accumulating snow. 

Despite the winter weather, Bellinghamsters are still out and about in full force. So far…

more »
Nordic Night
Putting the kick in cross-country

“It’s the perfect way to fly,” my old trail crew buddy Tryg said as he jammed his ski poles into the snow and pushed off into the night.

He was right. Even moving uphill on a pair of heirloom Madshus 210s he glided over the groomers so quickly and with such little apparent effort…

more »
Couples Therapy
The ins and outs of love

If you’re not in the right frame of mind to commemorate Valentine’s Day by gazing at your paramour across a candle-lit table, we’ve compiled a few alternate ways to spend time with your sweeties of choice in the coming days. They all involve going outside for an extended period of time, so…

more »
Events
Today
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Ubu Roi

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Wild Things

9:30am|Interurban Trail

Spanish Storytime

10:30am|Lynden Library

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Magnolia Street and Cornwall Avenue

Weird Washington

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Friday Night Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Whatcom Humane Society Wine Social

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

PhotoLUSH 2017

6:00pm|Lairmont Manor

Friday Night Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Always…Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

And I Remember

7:00pm|Village Books

King John

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

International Guitar Night

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

James Hunter Six

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Borealis Wind Quintet

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Cupid's Arrow Final Weekend

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

IGN Cascadia Bellingham Technical College
Tomorrow
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Ubu Roi

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Weird Washington

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

PhotoLUSH 2017

6:00pm|Lairmont Manor

Always…Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

King John

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

Cupid's Arrow Final Weekend

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Snow Play Day and Survival Skills

8:00am|Mt. Baker Ski Area

Children's Literature Conference

9:00am|Performing Arts Center

What's New in Organic Gardening

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Plant Society Ramble

9:30am|Maple Creek Loop

UFO Primer

10:00am|Syre Hall

FiberFest 2017

10:00am|La Conner Middle/High School

Intro to Ancestry

10:00am|Ferndale Library

Winter Trail Run Series

10:00am|BBMX Park

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Smelt Run

10:00am|La Conner Middle School

Kids Can Cook

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Washington Beer Open House

12:00pm|Whatcom and Skagit counties

An all-season outdoor expo

1:00pm

Tax Help

1:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Weird Washington

1:00pm|Lynden Library

Raising Pigs

1:30pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Peace Corps Revisited

3:00pm|Lynden Library

Geology Underfoot

3:00pm|Deming Library

Starry Night Chamber Orchestra

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Whatcom Writes

4:00pm|Village Books

Wishes for Our Stars Gala

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Varsity Vocals

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Comedy Fundraiser

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Boating Center Fundraiser

7:00pm|Elks Club

Light in the Night Gala

7:00pm|Settlemyer Hall

Wetzel's World

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Bayshore Symphony Winter Concert

7:30pm|Central Lutheran Church

Bellingham Technical College Northwood Steak and Crab
Sunday
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Bayshore Symphony Winter Concert

7:30pm|Central Lutheran Church

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Refugee Talk

2:00pm|Christ the Servant Lutheran Church

Northwest Cancer Summit

2:00pm|Bellingham Golf and Country Club

Sting and Piano Chamber Concert

3:00pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

The Tao of Raven

4:00pm|Village Books

Making time with Oscar

4:30pm

The Irish Rovers

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

see our complete calendar »

IGN Cascadia Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Bellingham Technical College Trove Village Books Northwood Steak and Crab