Wolves in Washington
Wolf supporters do more than just complain or protest; for some states, they also attempt to help boost the local economy through t-shirt sales and other trinkets embossed with wolf photos and lingo. Yet the wolf tourist trade isn’t driving up revenue in every state – and for some, like Washington State, wolf recovery continues despite little economic gain.
According to The Bulletin, numerous studies have found that millions of dollars are spent each year on wolf souvenirs as well as guide services, spotting scopes and travel expenses by those interested in observing wolves in their natural habitat at Yellowstone National Park. The irony is that the state, while host to countless wolf “fans,” sees little revenue from these purchases to offset wolf management programs necessary to keep the growing wolf populations at bay. In fact, according to University of Montana researchers, the revenue gained by Yellowstone’s wolf tourist economy basically “offsets losses in the hunting and outfitting sectors caused by reductions in the wolves’ prey,” which is elk.
Regardless of whether wolves will help the Washington economy, Donny Martorello, who is head of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) wolf program, says that officials will move forward with wolf recovery within the state. WDFW has spent more than $1 million each year on wolf management and works to keep pet and livestock interactions at bay through range rider and other programs, according to The Bulletin.
Many Washington State residents support the fact that wolves have moved into the state and are excited to see one. It is a different story for most hunters. While Martorello doubts Washington will have as many wolf viewing opportunities as Yellowstone, he says, “We get a lot of reports on wolf sighting, so the opportunity is there. Most of them are random sightings, but some people have captured the moment with some really nice photographs.”
WDFW says that the current wolf tally includes 90 wolves in at least 18 packs.