Oregon Wolves

Pups Born to Oregon Wolf Pack Coincides with Review of State’s Wolf Plan

In early July, remote cameras placed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) captured four wild wolf pups frolicking in northeast Oregon .  The pups are part of the Imnaha pack that contains one pair of breeding wolves and somewhere between ten and 14 wolves in total.

The pups’ arrival comes just as the state is preparing to review its five-year Wolf Plan , a wolf conservation plan introduced in 2005 that protects gray wolves by the state’s Endangered Species Act.  Livestock owners are not allowed to harm wolves in Oregon without a permit.

Unlike nearby states including Montana and Utah, wolves were not reintroduced in Oregon; state biologists believe that wolves are ranging into Oregon from other states.  Conservations are delighted with the appearance of the Imnaha pups as they are seeking to ensure the conservation of grey wolves.

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Because of their protected status , Oregon livestock owners may scare wolves off by making loud noises, but they may not harm a wolf–even one in the process of attacking their cattle–without a permit, and permits are only issued under those circumstances.  Needless to say, this has angered many Oregon ranchers who have lost livestock due to marauding packs of wolves. Some cattlemen have never wholeheartedly bought into the Wolf Plan.

Last spring, ODFW authorized USDA Wildlife Services to kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack responsible for five confirmed livestock losses while still protecting the pack’s alpha male and alpha female, the state’s only know pair of breeding wolves.  This month ODFW is reviewing the Wolf Plan and will present a draft evaluation at the Fish and Wildlife Commission during an informational meeting on September 2nd in Hillsdale, Oreon.

Another meeting will be held on October 1st in Bend where the commission is expected to adopt a final, amended plan that could include changes to current rules.  The plan will include input from conservationists as well as livestock producers, hunters, trappers, and wildlife experts.

B-300, the alpha female of the Imnaha wolf pack. Taken in July of 2009 when ODFW replaced her radio collar. Photo from ODFW. B-300, the alpha female of the Imnaha wolf pack. Taken in July of 2009 when ODFW replaced her radio collar. Photo from ODFW.

If you were looking for solid proof that gray wolves are making a comeback in Oregon, this may be it.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife released video this afternoon showing a pack of ten wolves in the Imnaha Wildlife Management Unit in Wallowa County.  ODFW has been monitoring the pack since June of 2008, but the new video is proof that the pack is much bigger than they realized.

“ODFW has been regularly monitoring this pack but until this video was taken, we only had evidence of a minimum of three adults and three pups making up the pack, says Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “Pups can be difficult to distinguish at this distance, but it appears there may be as many as six pups in the video.

ODFW is monitoring this pack and another one in the Wenaha Unit of Wallowa County. If at least two pups survive until the end of the year, then the pack is considered a “breeding pair” under Oregon law. ODFW’s Wolf Management plan calls for establishing at least four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in Eastern Oregon before they can be removed from the state’s Endangered Species List.

In addition to the two packs, Michelle Dennehy says they are monitoring an undetermined number of isolated wolves.

Gray wolves in Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington, and throughout most of the Rockies were delisted by the Obama Administration earlier this year. But should you happen to find any in Western Oregon, they remain protected under federal and state law.