Researcher says wolf population likely larger than estimates

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A University of Washington researcher says the number of wolves in the state is likely higher than thought.

Samuel Wasser conducted a two-year wolf study using scat-sniffing dogs.

He says his dogs detected 95 wolves in one area of Stevens and Pend Oreille (pahn-duh-RAY’) counties during the 2016-17 season. The state wildlife department a year ago estimated there were a minimum of 122 wolves statewide.

Wasser says it’s possible Washington’s population of wolves is closer to 200 animals. He presented his findings to a state Senate committee last week.

State wolf managers also spoke to the committee. They said protections, available habitat and a suitable prey base are facilitating a “wave of recovery” among wolves in Washington.

The animals were all but wiped out in the state early in the last century.