At year’s end 25 wolves in Oregon

Wolf population grows slowly in Oregon

Despite a moderate amount of what is euphemistically called “wolf control” in Oregon this year, the wolf population grew a bit with a count of 25 wolves at year’s end. It was 24 until a few days ago when a new pup (now about 7 months old) was discovered by a trail camera.  The young wolf is part of the Wenaha Pack, which biologists thought had not reproduced this year. Earlier  in 2011, many believed we would see a population would drop this year because at one time in 2010 in Imnaha Pack numbered 16 wolves (briefly).

The other three packs in Oregon are  the Imnaha (best known), Walla Walla (biggest, 6 wolves) and Snake River packs. The latter two packs were discovered this year.  All of the packs are in Oregon’s NE corner. The Imnaha Pack has tittered on the edge of extinction due to “controls” (the alpha male has indeed killed quite a few livestock) and dispersion of its members.  Two of the disperers have traveled a long way from NE Oregon, with wolf OR7 all the way to the Cascades south of Crater Lake, spurring hopes of wolf regeneration in that world famous mountain range and hope that California could have wolves migrate in, although a lone wolf will never repopulate anything.

Because Idaho bounds Oregon for many miles and much of the boundary has had wolves on the Idaho side, some are surprised it took so long for wolves to begin to form packs in Oregon (not until 2007), although there were lone dispersers much earlier.  I wrote a number of years ago that the Imnaha River seemed like a natural route for wolves to enter Oregon due to topography and an abundance of elk and deer to eat. This has proven true.

Wolves have not proven popular with the semi-feudal elite that dominates much of lightly populated NE Oregon.  Fortunately the Oregon wolf plan was adopted by the state legislature in 2010, and gives state protection to wolves, filling up a huge hole left when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted wolves in Idaho and Montana and with it an inexplicably large part of eastern Oregon and Washington state.

It is likely the 2012 Oregon legislature will be a session where livestock and hunting interests try to weaken wolf protection. Oregon, however, has a more favorable political climate and a progressive tradition in much of the state, something foreign to states like Idaho.

A recent study showed over 40,000 square miles of Oregon would be good wolf habitat with a surprise — much of it is in central Oregon and the east slope of the Cascades, so recovery will not have to rely particularly on NE Oregon’s  hostile Wallowa county.  Research suggests Oregon prime habitat for wolves. By Joseph Ditzler. East Oregonian.




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  1. Doryfun Avatar

    Go Oregon Wolves. I grew up in NE Oregon, unfortunately before wolves, but know full well the resistance they meet in Wallowa Country. Of course, ironically, my moving to Idaho County was like landing in the “Wallowa of Idaho.”

    The western side of OR might be more progressive than any part of Idaho, but that isn’t an assurance of any less of a battle to ensue over the politics of wolves. The squeaky part of the wheel always gets most of the attention.

    Floating the Grande Ronde River during the winter is a grand experience for observing wildlife. For a vareity of wildlife to be seen in just one day, it just might rival AK for that diversity, by water travel. I welcome Mr. & Mrs. Wolf to add to this mix.


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Ralph Maughan