GRANITE FALLS, Wash. — Wolves in Western Washington—the Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s a real possibility, and more and more people are reporting unverified sightings.
“I’ve been hunting since I was 13,” Becca Van Tassell, a Granite Falls native, told us. So it’s safe to say she’s familiar with western Washington’s resident wildlife; she’s even been up close with a coyote.
“I’ve been super close to a coyote—probably five feet away,” Van Tassell said.
That’s why she can say with almost complete certainty that what she saw over the weekend was not a coyote.
“It was pretty big—when we first saw it we said, ‘No way is that a coyote,’” Van Tassell explained. “It was huge.”
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The animal was in her parents’ backyard in the Pilchuck Highlands neighborhood just outside Granite Falls. Van Tassell didn’t think it could possibly have been a wolf until she saw a pair of pictures on Facebook. Another Granite Falls resident shot the pictures Monday and posted them to the social media site saying she watched what she is convinced are wolves walk through her yard.
Amy Windrope is the Region 4 director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and she says there has been a lone wolf caught and collared around the Marblemount area, so we know they can get here.
“They’ve come over the border from Idaho and traveled into eastern Washington and it’s possible they will travel into Western Washington,” Windrope told us.
There are 22 known wolf packs in the state and those numbers are growing, so WDFW needs people like Van Tassell to go online to the agency’s website and file a wolf sighting report.
While pictures are great, Windtrope says these are even better: “We need to have scat samples, fur samples and DNA samples.”
Of course, those may be hard to get, so the agency asks people at least to mark on its online map where they saw the supposed wolf.
“We’re very interested in the facts behind it—where are we seeing them, how can we document them, how we understand how they’re moving through the landscape?” Windtrope said.
There are multiple reports submitted every week; none have been substantiated yet, but Van Tassell hopes they will be.
“It is kind of cool because they’ve been gone for so long so it would be really pretty to have them back,” Van Tassell concluded.
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