Authorities have decreed wolf packs are welcome in Washington state as long as they stay in the wilderness and hunt deer, not livestock. Ranchers insist the animals have already wondered out of their predicted ranges and are threatening sheep and cattle. Two separate instances hint that lone wolfs, or small packs, may have already migrated to the Columbia Basin.

Witnesses have reported unconfirmed sightings of lone wolves near Cowiche and the Nile Basin north of Yakima. The known Teanaway Pack in Kittatas county has eight known members.

Then just this week a ranch worker near Lake Sprague (north of Ritzville, south of Spokane) said a female wolf was chasing cattle. They shot at her but could not find a body. Experts are confused since no known packs are nearby.

The law allows ranchers to shoot wolves threatening livestock, however, if dead wolves are found away from livestock state wildlife workers do investigate and prosecute if possible.

The scariest part of this news is the impact on pets. Ranches invest technology and manpower into watching out for predators, but a family dog or cat in the backyard, or wandering down a rural road, is easy prey for lone wolves.

wolf in winter
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