Wolves number in dozens in Wash., Ore.

Washington and Oregon are home to an unknown number, around five dozen, of gray wolves.

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How many wolves are out there? More than a few, but probably not as many as you may think.

As of the end of last year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported the minimum state population was 29 wolves. "This means that at least 29 wolves were documented, though it is likely that there are more, as lone wolves can be challenging to document," the department stated on its Web site.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported in January that its year-end survey of the state's five confirmed wolf packs found three successful breeding pairs totaling at least 27 wolves. There was also evidence of unconfirmed packs in the Blue Mountains and at Hozomeen in the North Cascades, as well as reports of transient individuals.

Oregon's four known wolf packs are the Imaha, Wenaha, Walla Walla and Snake River. All four confirmed packs are in the northeastern corner of the state.

Washington's five confirmed packs are the Diamond Pack in Pend Oreille County and Idaho, the Smackout Pack in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, the Salmo Pack in Pend Oreille and British Colombia, the Tenaway Pack in Kittitas County and the Lookout Pack in Okanogan County.

Gray wolves are designated and protected as endangered species under Oregon and Washington state laws.

The wolves are also federally listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of Washington and Oregon.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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