Here is some really good news to offset that about Idaho Fish and Game Commission-

The alpha female is former Idaho wolf B300F. I predicted earlier that the Imnaha River was a natural migration corridor for Idaho wolves into Oregon.

– – – – – – – – – –
News Release

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Contact: Michelle Dennehy (503) 947-6022; Fax: (503) 947-6009
Internet: www.dfw.state.or.us

Nov. 19, 2009

Video shows 10 wolves in the Imnaha pack

A video taken by ODFW on Nov. 12, 2009 in the Imnaha Wildlife Management Unit (east of Joseph, Ore. in Wallowa County) shows at least 10 wolves make up a pack that ODFW has been monitoring since June 2008. The video was taken from an adjacent ridge across a canyon and shows a mixture of gray and black individual wolves moving upslope.

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/video_gallery/imnaha_wolf_pack.asp

Also found here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/IEODFW

“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.

Wolf litters generally average around five pups, but more is not uncommon,” he added.

The alpha female of the pack is B-300, a wolf first observed in Oregon in January 2008. Her radio collar stopped working in Fall 2008 but ODFW re-collared her in July 2009 and wildlife managers continue to track her and other members of the pack.

ODFW will continue to monitor this pack and another pack in the Wenaha Unit (Wallowa County) to count their pups during the month of December. For a pack to be defined as a “breeding pair” (an important step in wolf conservation) it must produce at least two pups that survive to December 31 of the year of their birth.

Under Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider delisting wolves from the Oregon Endangered Species List when four breeding pairs for three consecutive years have been documented in eastern Oregon.

The video is more evidence that wolves are establishing themselves in northeast Oregon.

Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the State Endangered Species Act., They are also protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act west of Highways 398/78/95.

– – – – – –

Update: The Cascadia Wildlands Project seems to be a local Oregon group working on behalf of Oregon wolves.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

52 Responses to Wolf pack of at least ten in Oregon's Imnaha River drainage

  1. avatar dc says:

    4 breeding pairs???? That’s it???? Any guesses as to how many “breeding pairs” existed here in Oregon before extermination of the species?

  2. 4 breeding pairs is not the last word on Oregon. I think they have a wolf plan for the state still under consideration.

    Then too, once you get past eastern Oregon, the wolf is still a flat out federal endangered species. Eastern Oregon got delisted by the delisting plan many hope Judge Molloy will strike down again. The boundaries of the DPS need to be redrawn more tightly around the country the wolves actually inhabit. The USFWS made a clearly political decision to delist in eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and northern Utah, along with Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

  3. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    DC, where does it say four breeding pairs?

  4. avatar gline says:

    I think I’d like to move here…

  5. avatar Cris Waller says:

    “I think they have a wolf plan for the state still under consideration. ”

    Oregon actually finalized their plan back in 2005. You can find it here- http://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/management_plan.asp

    As far as the four breeding pairs, it’s from the plan-
    “Wolves may be considered for statewide delisting once the population reaches four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in eastern Oregon. Four breeding pairs are considered the minimum conservation population objective, also described as Phase 1. The plan calls for managing wolves in western Oregon as if the species remains listed until the western Oregonwolf population reaches four breeding pairs. This means, for example, that a landowner would
    be required to obtain a permit to address depredation problems using injurious harassment.”

    More criteria-

    5-7 pairs- livestock owners can kill depredating wolves under permit

    More than 7 pairs- sport hunting can be allowed.

  6. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    This is Oregon’s plan finalized in 2005; I went to two of the meetings in Salem. Those who spoke against it were primarily hunters and eastern Oregon ranchers. A representative from Cascadia Wildlands was there and made a good presentation. A lot of young people supported having wolves in the state.

    http://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/docs/wolf_plan.pdf

  7. avatar gline says:

    Barb: young people in that county? Did they come from neighboring counties do you know?

  8. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    gline, I assumed that they came from several counties but have no proof of it. There were about 100 people present and I was encouraged by the number of younger people that were pro and also that it was mostly older hunters that were anti.

  9. avatar gline says:

    Doesn’t surprise me about the anti’s. Nice to hear about courageous people showing up to show support. I was just wondering if they had put effort into travel… like here.

  10. avatar Taz Alago says:

    At the delisting hearing in Pendleton the pro-wolfers outnumbered the anti-wolfers, but that may have been because Defenders organized some attendance. Those who spoke out against wolves were mostly hunters.

    Here in Wallowa County several ranchers, including I believe one of those on whose land the this pack ranges, seem guardedly tolerant of the wolves return. So we pro-wolfers are keeping our fingers crossed that the “Idaho Syndrome” won’t develop here.

  11. avatar Ryan says:

    Barb,

    I may have seen you at one of those hearings. I didn’t have a problem with the numbers, just the west of 97 portion of it.

  12. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Check out the comment in this article.
    http://www.kval.com/news/local/70551332.html

    Someone is already blaming wolves in part for the reduction of the deer and elk herds.

  13. avatar nabeki says:

    I found that video yesterday on youtube by accident. It’s so cool they way they’re all walking single file.

  14. avatar nabeki says:

    spelling errors…lol….meant to say “the way”

  15. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    About the only talking point the commenter on the KVAL site left out was that they are 200 pound Canadian wolves.

    I liked that cougars are moving into rural areas.

  16. avatar Taz Alago says:

    “I liked that cougars are moving into rural areas.”

    I do too, but I think it’s the other way around – rural people are moving into cougar areas. Sadly, Oregon F&W will launch a cougar thinning progarm in NE Oregon this Spring, using the usual traps and dogs. APHIS Wildlife Service will assist, of course.

  17. avatar Nabeki says:

    I hope Oregon does right by their wolves.

  18. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Taz Alago
    Thanks for the report and your support.

    Thinning cougars in NE Oregon and killing wolf pups in Idaho sounds like a bad spring for predators.

  19. avatar Taz Alago says:

    Well, at least we have the Imnaha pack and the hope they won’t be assaulted for a year or two.

    I hate to be depressing, but along with the cougar “cull,” the Wildlife Service is now running an aerial gunning program in SE Oregon, including Steen’s Mountain, inspired by a recent $12,000 grant from the Oregon Hunters’ Assoc. The purpose of the grant is to raise mule deer numbers by killing coyotes, but since the Wildlife Service doesn’t directly involve itself in “wildlife management,” it claims it’s protecting livestock, no matter the money comes from a hunters association. The ODFW hasn’t yet completed it’s Mule Deer Initiative and has therefor not decided whether or not predation is the primary cause of low fawn survival in that area. Generally, other factors such as grazing quality, cattle, weather, hunting, ORV use all should be considered before gunning coyotes. The nearby Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge stopped predator control completely in the 90’s and now has record high antelope numbers.

  20. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    About the only talking point the commenter on the KVAL site left out was that they are 200 pound Canadian wolves.

    I’m wondering how many people in Oregon and Washington are calling them 200 pound wolves. I have not heard that in Wyoming nearly as much as in Idaho. I did at times in Montana.

  21. avatar Taz Alago says:

    I haven’t heard anybody claiming there are 200 lb. wolves. I doubt there are any.

  22. avatar Tracie says:

    I love it when people carry on about Canadian wolves. Did they have to show thier passports to cross the border?

  23. avatar gline says:

    I heard the 200 lb wolf story the other night, in MT. As well, this person said it could be anytime that wolves start to prey upon people… this person kills lots of coyotes I know.

  24. When he was a senator from Montana, Conrad Burns predicted a little girl would be eaten by a wolf by the end of the year. That was in 1995. Of course, people have predicted it ever since.

    No one ever seems to be held to account for their bad predictions. We could move beyond wildlife and find thousands of bad predictions by important people made time and time again, with no one accepting blame when just the opposite takes place.

    Of course, I guess this was just an average person. We can all play the game.

  25. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Ralph, I never knew that he specified that it would be a little girl. Makes the Little Red Riding Hood thing seem more like his motivation.

  26. ProWolf in WY,

    Remembering Burns, I suspect Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs was about the extent of his knowledge of wildlife. 🙁

  27. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I think so.

  28. avatar Ryan says:

    “The nearby Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge stopped predator control completely in the 90’s and now has record high antelope numbers.”

    Taz,

    The numbers are significantly less than the 60’s. Pronghorns are down, mule deer are way down, and so are sage grouse. The fawn rates have been a bit better, but not thriving. As for the Steens, cattle grazing has been cut back as have alot of roads been decommissioned, that has not stopped the precipitous fall of Mule Deer populations SE Oregon.

  29. avatar Taz Alago says:

    Ryan –

    Where do you get your numbers? I’m no wildlife expert, but I have read some recent reports by the USFWS of aerial surveys of Hart Mountain. I’m looking at one dated 7/09 which gives a long-term average of all pronghorns 1955-08 at 911, and a ten year average 1998-08 of 1965, with a ten year average trend of +9.4%. The study didn’t address mule deer.

    Re: Steen’s Mountain, predators certainly influence fawn survival, but so do a lot of other things, especially habitat conditions. The point I was making was not that coyotes don’t eat deer, but that they’re not always the culprit in falling herd numbers, and that honest research into the cause should be made before deciding to aerial gun coyotes. They are always the scapegoat. This particular campaign was launched without specific scientific back-up. The Mule Deer Initiative process is as yet incomplete but nevertheless the slaughter takes place. Here’s a link to a story on this. You’ll have to scroll down the page for the story : http://eugeneweekly.com/2009/11/12/news.html.

    The USFWS report originated at
    Sheldon – Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex
    Post Office Box 111
    Lakeview, Oregon 97630

  30. avatar Ryan says:

    Taz,

    I was a bit off Pronghorn numbers peaked in the early 90’s. They still swing pretty dramatically from year to year.
    As for the Mule deer and big horn sheep, cats are playing a much bigger role than coyotes imho. Both Mule deer and bighorn sheep numbers are down in SE Oregon in large part due to cats, in many areas the cattle grazing has been cut down, (i.e. the warners have gone from 6,000 cattle to 2000 cattle roughly in the last 15 years) yet the mule deer populations continue to plummet. I know several locals in the Plush and Adel area who run cows and guide hunters and they are all saying the same thing with regards to populations falling, granted their not enlightened and only get to go off what they have seen over the last 25 years. 🙂 If you read the friends of Hart website, the Cats are killing their collared sheep like they are going out of style. They have also pushed the sheep population out of Poker Jim onto other parts of the refuge. Mule deer are down ~66% on Hart as well.

    One interesting thing that was brought up, (which I haven’t had time to observe just yet, but am hoping to this year) is that the Antalope like to fawn in the middle of Cattle herds because the cows run the Coyotes off. Has anyone else seen this behavior before?

  31. avatar Taz Alago says:

    Ryan –

    Yes, sheep are down -2.6% on a ten year average ’98-’08 according to the survey I mentioned above. However, long term averages ’54-’08 were 194, ten year ’98-’08 were 250.

    The report added, “Since the mid 1990s, the population had been generally maintaining a minimum population between 200 and 300 individuals. The 2009 survey was the lowest number of individuals directly observed since the 1970s. However, the adjusted population estimate for 2009 was only slightly below that estimated for 2008 (216 sheep and 234 sheep, respectively). A contributing factor in the number observed in 2009 may have been that the sheep appeared to be highly dispersed due to abundant water and green forage.”

    I would say that, since there has been no predator control on Hart Mountain since the mid-90’s, then the 200-300 minimum range would represent a balance between predator and prey as far as sheep are concerned. I don’t know if sheep and pronghorn compete for grazing, but if so that could be a factor. So, is 200-300 a satisfactory sheep population? Deer, sheep, pronghorn – all these populations must wax and wane, one up, another down. Surely they compete with one another to some extent. Which brings me to baselines: how and when were population baselines set? How reliable are they when they can’t much predate the early 1900’s? How do we know what is an average sustainable population (i.e.: before white interference)? How realistic are “target” populations?

    If cats are killing the mule deer in SE Oregon, then why is the WS gunning coyotes? And if cattle numbers are so much less around Steen’s Mtn., then why are they claiming the gunning is to protect livestock? Bah! The WS is a political organization, they’re killing to pander to emotions without regard to science, as usual. And the Oregon Hunters’ Assoc. should know better.

    My point in all this is that predators are routinely blamed for low herd numbers when so many others causes (including hunting) are pertinent but ignored. It is political (and cultural) expedience. Nothing new, of course.

    We certainly have gotten off the subject of wolves.

  32. avatar Don says:

    Just a thought that I don’t see anyone mention when it comes to predators killing the young of game animals. It seems most focus on coyotes, wolves and cats, but what about the Raptors? They play a big part in all this as well. The Bald Eagle population has grown considerably, along with the Golden Eagle and most Hawks. All these range in pretty good numbers in S and SE as well as NE Oregon. For that matter they are everywhere. I looked out the widow of my front door a year or so ago, and a Bald Eagle flew by right down the road not 20′ up. I live in town.

    By the way, I saw the story on the wolves here in Oregon on the local news, and I was so glad to see it. I hope they have a chance to prosper unmolested.

  33. Don,

    Wolves and cougar generally don’t bother much with new born elk and deer, and especially pronghorn. Wolves benefit pronghorn populations it seems by killing coyotes.

    For wolves the cost/benefit ratio of nutrition to effort is too low to search for elk calves and deer fawn. Killing new born elk are more the specialty of bears. Coyotes focus on deer and pronghorn fawn.

    When the elk and deer are say 6 months old, they are more worthwhile to cougar and wolves and less to coyotes (too difficult).

    Eagles do take fawn and bighorn sheep lambs, but I doubt they have much of a population impact. They can sometimes be a significant predator of domestic sheep lambs. Sheep ranchers shooting eagles out of sky from aircraft was a major scandal in the 1970s, and one reason why President Nixon and Congress put in place very strong controls on shooting them and on predator poisoning. The latter (poison) was later loosened under Reagan.

  34. avatar Matt says:

    Nice looking rare video of an Oregon wolf pack. Lets hope a few wolves can make it to the central Oregon Cascades if they are not there already.

  35. avatar Ryan says:

    Taz,

    Do you have a link to this report? I’d like to read it.

  36. avatar Taz Alago says:

    Ryan –

    It was emailed to me by a friend, so I don’t have a link. I’d be happy to email it to you. Maybe Ralph could act as intermediary?

    On eagles, here’s a clip of eagles attacking reindeer calves in Lapland: http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8314000/8314558.stm

  37. avatar Ryan says:

    That’d work, email it to ralph and hopefully he”ll be able to email it to me. I’d really like to read it, the hart Mtn/Warner/ Beattys bute area is one of my favorite places in oregon.

  38. Taz,

    Please send me a copy if you do email me. My wife spent a week taking down old fences at Hart Mountain. So we have a personal interest

  39. avatar Taz Alago says:

    Ralph –

    I have an email address for you but I don’t think it’s current since I never receive replies. Email me and I’ll reply with the study.

  40. avatar Ryan says:

    rmaughan2@cableone.net is the address I have, I usually get responses.

  41. Thanks Ryan,

    I think I took my email address down when I deleted by bio information. I decided it was too hostile.

    I will put it up in the “read this first!” sticky note at the top of the blog.
    – – – –
    Done

  42. avatar caleb says:

    Ralph

    Not too hostile by any means.

  43. avatar Ryan says:

    Ralph,

    There is just a few miles left to go at Hart now, I’m hoping to make it down there this year to help, if I get laid off I am most likely going to work on the fence crew for BLM there and help finish the southern boundry fence to keep the wild horses out.

    Taz,

    There was a study done in ID a few years back, Golden Eagles are a significant predator of Bighorn Sheep lands. The information I got about the sheep Kills came from the Friends of Hart Mtn Website.

  44. avatar Taz Alago says:

    Ryan – I sent the study to Ralph.

    I was just informed today by a local rancher that Canadian Geese kill calves (cattle) which is why he shoots all he can. Hmmm. Anybody ever heard that story?

    The Economist ran a story in their recent issue about wolves being blamed for sheep predation actually caused by feral dogs: http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14902751.
    This is in Spain. The study found dogs did most of the killing (14 to 1). Are there any US studies on that?

  45. avatar Ryan says:

    Taz,

    Never heard of that, but Ravens do kill newborn Calves. Geese do destroy alot of crops though, espicially here in the willamette valley.

  46. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    I don’t like to be picky but the common name is Canada not Canadian goose in North America. I think it may come from the fact that most, but not all, of these geese breed in Canada.

    Keep up the dialog, Taz. Thanks

  47. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    “Ryan Says: November 20, 2009 at 11:51 AM
    Barb, I may have seen you at one of those hearings. I didn’t have a problem with the numbers, just the west of 97 portion of it.”

    I don’t understand your concern about west of 97. Could you elaborate please?

  48. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Taz, I have never heard people complain about Canada (I usually call them Canadian also) geese killing cattle. I do know of a family in Montana who thinks the trumpeter swans that moved onto their property are a scourge. My dad also told me that he hunted pheasants on a rancher’s land who told them to shoot the owls because they were eating all the pheasant chicks (forget the fact that they probably helped keep the rodent and rabbit population down). It seems like people will complain about any animal on their land.

    As far as the study in Spain, I would be curious to see how many of the wolves were in fact wolf hybrids.

  49. avatar Taz Alago says:

    “As far as the study in Spain, I would be curious to see how many of the wolves were in fact wolf hybrids.”

    Yeah, good point. I don’t know if DNA analysis would show that.

    Sorry, Canada Goose, you’re right. I was conflating the goose with the much-feared Canadian wolf!

    It seems every wild beast is against the stockman. Bound to produce paranoid cowboys.

  50. Taz,

    I haven’t received the study yet. Sometimes email is slow, but perhaps you can resend it to rmaughan2@cableone.net

  51. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Bound to produce paranoid cowboys.

    I think that’s the truth, but there is also the paranoid hunter. Nothing like killing predators so you have more to kill.

  52. avatar Ryan says:

    I don’t understand your concern about west of 97. Could you elaborate please?

    Barb,

    It has been a couple of years since I read the plan, my concern was Eastern Oregon having an abundance of wolves and no wolves making across 97 there for making the delisting not happen. The big game numbers (populations) in Oregon are in decline and have been for the last 20 years, without Population controls, the units in eastern oregon would be way below M.O. and there would be no hunting. Granted the Oregon Department of liscence sales is to be blamed for the current prediciment were in, 25 packs of wolves definately won’t make it better.

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