Good news for wolf conservationists and Oregon wildlife-

It took quite a while for wolves to make it from Idaho to adjacent Oregon, but now that a critical population appears to have been reached the population has taken off. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) reports that at year’s end there were 53 wolves in Oregon.  The year before, there were 29 wolves at the end of 2011.

There are now seven recognized Oregon wolf packs, five of which contain “breeding pairs” of wolves.  There is a legal distinction between a pack and a breeding pair. It is the latter that counts for meeting the state’s wolf recovery plan.

The packs are  the Imnaha Pack, Snake River Pack, Walla Walla Pack,  Wenaha Pack, Minam River Pack, Upper Minam River Pack, and the Umatilla River Wolves. The wolf packs are all concentrated in the NE corner of Oregon. The Walla Walla pack sometimes ranges into Washington State. Map.

Neither the Upper Minam River pack of an estimated 7 wolves nor the Minam River Pack of 5 wolves had a “breeding pair” of wolves during 2012.

The fact that all of the wolves are in the NE corner of the state and the wolf plan wants them distributed around the state at a somewhat lower density than in the NE present a bit of a problem.  A couple wolves have moved far to the west in Oregon in their travels, but these lone wolves found no mates. One, the now famous wolf OR-7, went all the way to northern California where he has lived quietly for some time as a lone wolf.

 Photo gallery of Oregon Wolves (from ODFW).

Some loss of livestock to wolves continues, but folks might find it amazing how many official investigations of the cause of dead livestock which were at first reported as wolf and turned out not to be. Read the reports.  Fewer than half of the investigations showed wolves as the cause or probable cause.

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

43 Responses to Oregon wolf population grows to 53 at end of 2012

  1. Atlas says:

    now they are doing better than the mexican wolves…..

  2. Richie G says:

    Maybe we will catch a break here, in Oregon.

  3. Barb Rupers says:

    I’m hoping that they will spred out a bit, from out of NE Oregon into the Cascades; then south into California thus giving the former Imnaha wolf some company.

  4. Richie G says:

    When I am reading the rules,my question is does the other states have the same rules,and the rules do not point to a definite wolf kill could be coyote. The rules are still not clear, one could lead to a wolf even if it wasn’t a wolf. Their is a big gray area in the presentation of these rules. They are stacking the deck against the wolves.

  5. Richie G says:

    Yes but In was reading Oregon rules,my question are all the rules in the western states the same. They do not give a clear explanation if it is a wolf,could be a coyote. Do they look at the size of the bite marks and know it’s a wolf.Then their is the people’s account ,what about if raNCHERS ARE LYING JUST TI EXTERMINATE the pack. Can someone answer tghe question do most states have the same rules.

    • Rancher Bob says:

      Ranchers can lie about wolf kills all they want it won’t result in the EXTERMINATED pack. Attacks are investigated by a state or federal agency, there are very clear signs differing wolf and coyote or other type of death. If there is conflicting evidence then we have a non-confirmed kill.
      All states do not have the same rules for managing wolves or who manages wolves or who investigates. How a wolf kills does not vary much so what investigators look for is the same. If there is enough left of the animal and it is found very soon after death predator attacks are fairly easy to determine.

  6. WM says:

    Let’s do the math 53/29 = 83% increase in one year. No way they are reproducing that fast, so there is in migration from ID. Did they undercount in 2010? One more data point to show wolves are not in trouble in the NRM DPS and adjacent parts of WA and OR outside the DPS, even with the high take-off from the ID harvest. And, if they counted 53 confirmed in OR there are probably closer to 60 or more.

    • Rancher Bob says:

      Same thing happens in all states that wolves settle, new wolf packs are found in new areas all the time. J S Mallonee has problems with Montana’s wolf counting just because he don’t understand that it takes time to prove new packs settle into new areas. It’s like the homestead act move into the good places first then fill the voids latter.

    • JB says:


      I don’t think an 83% increase is unreasonable for a (largely) protected wolf population that is claiming unoccupied territory. If one in 4 wolves is producing pups, 3.31 pups/female would fully account for the population increase. But you’re probably right, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least some in migration.

      • WM says:


        Whatever their origin, these wolves need to thin out and expand range, getting to the SW side of Interstate 84 before there are perceptible impacts to elk populations there. Eastern Oregonian elk hunters, just like their counterparts in ID, MT and Eastern WA are pretty much cut from the same bolt of cloth. Either the regulators step in soon and move some (I don’t know whether translocation is a part of the OR plan like it is in WA), or the 3S crowd might start up,if they haven’t already.

        • WM says:


          Sorry, I think I knew this but forgot. Translocation (as distinguished from relocation which has to do more with problem wolves) is available to meet OR wolf conservation objectives, but is a more cumbersome public participation process oriented activity.

          See plan p. 24

          • DLB says:

            I asked about translocation to the southern Cascades at the Seattle wolf meeting. Danny Martorello, the carnivore section manager, stated that it is something they can look at, but won’t likely be necessary. Apparently the translocation would take some time to organize, and the belief is that wolves will recolonize the Cascades fairly quickly on their own.

            I’m guessing that it will be a similar situation in Oregon.

            • WM says:


              My guess is Olympia based Martorello is no more in tune with this than a couple of the naive field biologists in Eastern WA, that I talked to a couple years ago. No experience with wolves, and looking forward to the experience. When these WA wolves expand enough in population and range to get heavily into the Colockum herd, the herd that spans between White and Chinook Passes (Bethel Ridge), and the Mt. Adams herd on the Yakama Reservation the poop is going to hit the rotary blades. It already has on the Colville Reservation.

              JB is right about the budget stuff for translocation, but it was my understanding the WA plan was pushed through on the idea they WOULD likley move wolves around, so they could get their magic numbers and desired spatial distribution, and delist. Now, what I am hearing from your conversation is this won’t likely happen (because predictably the heat is on budget – another reason I disliked the WA plan, the cost). These wolves are going to eat their way through Eastern WA getting all the easy meals first. Don’t be surprised if the Commission steps in and gives a bit more direction, even in light of the oversight threats of twinkle toes Senator Kevin Ranker, and his meddling know-it-all attitude(heck they don’t even have coyotes on Orcas Island where he is from), and I don’t think he is going to bully the Commission as much as he did last fall now it appears the R’s have control of the WA Senate.

              • DLB says:


                Keep in mind when there are enough wolves around to get into the Colockum Herd, delisting objectives most likely will have been achieved. What happens after that is another matter.

                I think Martorello missed an opportunity to start preparing people for any kind of wolf management. He overemphasized the Wedge Pack being a “hiccup”, when very soon packs could end up having to be removed on an annual basis, and he mentioned that stakeholders could certainly advocate for no hunting season after delisting without any follow-up statement about the additional management burden that would inevitably fall on the WDFW as a result of that.

                I shouldn’t be too hard on him; he did have to follow Jimenez and Niemeyer, who are well seasoned for handling those types of meetings.

              • Louise Kane says:

                “Don’t be surprised if the Commission steps in and gives a bit more direction, even in light of the oversight threats of twinkle toes Senator Kevin Ranker, and his meddling know-it-all attitude(heck they don’t even have coyotes on Orcas Island where he is from), and I don’t think he is going to bully the Commission as much as he did last fall now it appears the R’s have control of the WA Senate.”
                Thank God someone is asking questions about predator policy. Not everyone agrees that this is a bad thing WM or that its meddling, probing is just what this issue required. A great many people in WA were pissed off about that decision to kill the pack. and outside the state

              • WM says:


                Let me rephrase – I think there will be alot of folks pissed off as the expanding numbers of WA wolves start killing more easy elk in the areas mentioned before the delisthing threshold. It is inevitable. There is fear numbers will increase before the spatial component of the WA plan is met (15 breeding pairs for 3 years/18 breeding pairs in 4 Eastern WA areas)- WITHOUT some wolves being moved around artificially. I forget the number necessary to get that many breeding pairs (300+ in that small area), but it cannot help but result in alot of additive elk kills by wolves that diminish elk hunting opportunities substantially. Then, as I have mentioned before the Yakama Reservation will likely take the same path as the Colvilles if it affects subsistence hunting or wolves kill livestock.

                That, if I recall, was the objection the Stevens County Cattleman’s Association leveled at WDFW. I think they are right. WDFW glossed over the impacts to the prey base (and current consumptive users) in pushing this plan thru, and it appears they are still failing to address it, unless some of this was covered in the meeting you attended. This is in addition to problem wolves interacting with livestock.

                There will be more Wedge Pack type incidents as the wolf population grows, and some will likely require lethal control.

                • Richie G says:

                  Always the cattleman, McDonalds dollar menu,nice burger onions and white american cheese,go ranchers!!!!! Maybe DeFazio can help from Oregon.

              • savebears says:

                Richie, if you consider Micky dee’s to be a nice burger, you need to get out more brother!

                • Richie G says:

                  tO SB; I know I am in to much!!!! Your hit the nail on the head. lol I got to many animals to take care p.s. A guy from work seen the sign and we bought some eerrrr,yuck lol again ! No hard feelings ? Good guy Sb

              • savebears says:

                Besides, the majority of beef that McDonald’s uses, is from Canada, they use very little US beef for their restaurants.

              • WM says:

                I had not been aware when I wrote the above two posts, some E. WA state legislator just introduced a bill for translocation of wolves from Eastern to Western WA (where there are none).

                ++Kretz introduced his wolf bill Monday and said residents of his district “feel greedy for hoarding all the ecological benefits of wolf packs,” so they’d like to share them with people on the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands.++


                The reference to the San Juan Islands was to include numbnuts Kevin Ranker’s legislative district, especially after he decided to second guess WDFW staff and the Commission regarding the fate of the Wedge Pack, supposedly with attitude and a budget squeeze. Ranker has shut his mouth now that he is no longer the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, which gave him, for the time-being, the bully pulpit. What goes around comes around, apparently.

                Kretz’ news release on his bill:


                And, Conservation NW, a somewhat centrist wolf advocacy group, has its own reaction to the Kretz bill.


                This could get interesting!

              • DLB says:


                I’m not really a fan of bills that have ZERO chance of passing, but are introduced anyway to try and make a statement. How many bills like that are introduced? Is it in the hundreds? They are waste of time & taxpayer resources.

                Wolf-ungulate relationships were not discussed at the meeting, which was not appreciated by the hunters present.

            • savebears says:


              You might not like it, but welcome to politics in the 21st century, in Montana, we have many of these go no where bills introduced every couple of years.

              • bret says:

                last paragraph Capitol Press link.
                Kretz said he went around to most “avidly pro-wolf legislators” asking them to co-sponsor the bill, “since they’ve supported wolves so much in Eastern Washington.”

                “I didn’t get a single taker. I was shocked,” he said. “That would be intellectually kind of dishonest, wouldn’t it? I thought they would jump at the chance to share in the blessings, but none of them would touch it.”
                I’m sure Kretz actions involved a bit of showmanship. I also think the wolf issue in WA will be more contentious than other states, to the surprise of many.

          • JB says:


            I’d be surprised if they move wolves given (a) the costs and (b) the fact that it opens the door to complaints that they were “put here” or “introduced”. And as you said, these folks are ‘cut from the same cloth’.

    • Nancy says:

      “If there is enough left of the animal and it is found very soon after death predator attacks are fairly easy to determine”

      RB – and honestly, not trying to nit pick here 🙂 ranchers often don’t find enough left of the animal, that might well of died from other causes. once word gets out to the local scavangers (coyotes, badgers, eagles, ravens and magpies) that there’s something dead on the landscape.

      • Rancher Bob says:

        I’ve seen a 800 pound calf go from being alive to being cleaned bone in less than 24 hours. Calves that are less than 300 pound that were fine at sunset can be a skull and spine by day break. That is why I said, very soon after death, that’s why so few deaths have a found cause of death. Don’t forget to mention the bears and lions, although I’ve never seen a badger on a corpse.

      • Immer Treue says:

        The wolf kill sites I’ve seen, within a number of days, and here is the proviso, if the wolves are left alone, the bones are scattered to kingdom come.

  7. Richie G says:

    Thanks Ralph for your answer I understand it better now.

  8. Richie G says:

    opps thanks Rancher Bob,who in your opinion has the most liberal rules ?

  9. Richie G says:

    Does any state have different kill laws for different predators ?

  10. Richie G says:

    Oregon plan on page 24 sounds more tolerable for a wolf pack,even thou they did say if cattle conflict comes into play they might come in and kill a few, not harvest.So the only way to really tell if the government is serious ,if their is a big rancher who has big influence on the local govrenment. The government must take into effect climate change,which it mentions, I don’t think they are geared for this yet. People in general are still finding it hard to take climate as something tangible. But reading the size of the herds of elk, moose deer I think that is the name , there is an over abundance of these animals.People want it all for themselves after reading the size of the herds. I hope I am wrong,P.S. Oregon ducks number one next year.

  11. Louise Kane says:

    Ralph thanks for posting the link to the images, some fabulous shots. I hope these wolves get to live out their natural lives. I’m sure some are already plotting the best way to delist so they can be hunted.

  12. Matt says:

    Hopefully soon they can establish some packs in the Cascades. The Mount Jefferson area south to Crater Lake and the southern coast range can surely support some wolves. A pack or two around Crater Lake National Park would be exciting.

  13. Richie G says:

    Even I am not from their Ida I agree it would be refreshing ! To say the least Thanks for a wonderful comment.

  14. Richie G says:

    Really they buy from Canada thanks sb

  15. Richie G says:

    WM ;I hope the bill is for real,maybe the other side of the state has new people from the midwest and the east,maybe they would like to see wolves. Remember it’s different for them,of course they would have to protect their animals,but I think they will make the effort to do that most, not all of course.

  16. Richie G says:

    I thinkHarry Reid just passed the new fillabuster rule,or he taking it seriously.

  17. Snaildarter says:

    Wa and Or are good but I’m still hoping for wolves in California I think they are safer in Blue States although I could be wrong.
    a few Grizzlies would be nice too!


January 2013


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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