According to the draft wolf management plan by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 15 wolf breeding pairs is considered minimal or barely adequate for achieving population viability and recovery of the gray wolf. Scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have concluded that wolf viability would be enhanced by higher wolf numbers (500) rather than lower population levels (300).
Higher wolf populations could also help local economies, bringing in much-needed tourism dollars from wildlife viewing. Since the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, tourists visiting the park, hoping to see a wolf, spend $35 million each year. An entire cottage industry based on leading wolf tours has been created in the communities near Yellowstone.
I hope the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will listen to scientific experts when determining the number of wolves needed to ensure the re-establishment of a self-sustaining population of gray wolves.