A two-year search for wolves in Washington’s South Cascades came up empty, a scientist said Wednesday.

Researchers tested the DNA of thousands of scat piles sniffed out by dogs. Many piles looked like wolf droppings, but all turned out to be from dogs, said Samuel Wasser, director of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology.

“I feel the likelihood of wolves being there is pretty low,” he said.

If wolves are in the South Cascades, they are lone wolves, he said.

“There’s no way there’s an established pack,” he said. “We would have picked that up.”

State lawmakers funded the study in part to learn how far west and south wolves have advanced in Washington. Recovery won’t be complete until at least four packs are producing pups in the South Cascades, according to the state’s wolf plan.

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