WA cougars are killing wolves

By on Thursday, October 27th, 2022 in Columbia Basin News Featured Stories

OLYMPIA – When it comes to where wolves roam, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeing a phenomenon that has been relatively uncommon in other states – cougars killing wolves.

Earlier in the summer a collared wolf from the Dominion wolf pack territory sent a mortality signal. Standard procedure when these signals are received is for a WDFW staffer to follow the signal to its location to assess the situation.

When WDFW Biologist Trent Roussin tracked down the collar in this incident, a dead wolf was found in a steep, thickly treed canyon. His investigation revealed a cougar killed the wolf.

“It was uncommon enough that when staff started asking about this, most biologists who studied wolves and cougars couldn’t think of an instance of a wolf being killed by a cougar,” Roussin said.

Since 2013, WDFW staff have documented at least four collared wolves being killed by cougars. Roussin said it is likely there are more cases that we don’t know about.

“Because we generally don’t find or recover carcasses from wolves that aren’t collared, we can’t be sure how many other wolves have died in a similar manner,” he said.

WDFW is still learning what impact and how wolves interact with other species. Scientists are currently analyzing data from the Washington Predator-Prey Project that studies interactions between ungulates like deer, elk, and moose and carnivores such as wolves, cougars, bobcats and coyotes.

Photo from WDFW