A hiker armed with a shotgun killed a young female wolf May 26 near Mingo Mountain in Stevens County, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Fish and Wildlife determined the shooting was lawful. The hiker, who was with his daughter, said the wolf was about 30 yards away and approaching when he fired, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The wolf emerged from woods and stepped out onto the trail, Fish and Wildlife wolf specialist Ben Maletzke said Friday.
The hiker told investigators the wolf did not make any noise and that the animal was too far away to see whether it was baring its teeth, according to Fish and Wildlife. The hiker said he thought at first it was a coyote.
“It was a quick interaction,” Maletzke said. “The person felt threatened, so it was lawful to protect himself.”
The hiker called law enforcement, and an officer was on scene within 20 minutes of the shooting, according to Fish and Wildife. The wolf appeared to be 1 to 2 years old and may have belonged to the Stranger pack, one of several in northeast Washington, Maletzke said.
Fish and Wildlife counted four wolves in the pack at the end of 2018. One pack member was legally killed by a Spokane tribal hunter this year. It’s unknown whether the pack produced any pups this spring.
Stevens County commissioners issued a public warning in January alerting rural residents, including those near Mingo Mountain, that wolves had been seen in the area.
Wolves are a state endangered species, though they are not federally protected in the eastern one-third of Washington.