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Meet Oregon's wolves: 77 animals, 9 packs, 26 new pups

EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon's wolf population grew from 64 at the end of 2013 to 77 by the end of 2014, the Oregon Department of Wildlife reports.

The animals attacked more livestock than in 2013, with domestic sheep by far the prey of choice.

And the endangered species established its first pack in the Oregon Cascades since wolves first returned to the state by crossing the Snake River from Idaho.

The findings are part of the annual report on Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management.

The figures will factor in any decision on whether to remove wolves in eastern Oregon from the state's endangered species list.

Wolves west of Highway 395 remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The state dispersed more than $150,000 to livestock producers, primarily to support efforts to prevent predation by wolfs. Some of the money compensated producers for lost animals.

Overall, there were fewer incidents of wolf depredations in 2014 than 2013, according to the report. But more animals were lost, due to a high number of sheep killed or injured by wolves.

State biologists tracked 9 documented wolf packs, defined as 4 or more wolves travelilng together in winter. | Map of Known Areas of Wolf Activity

Eight breeding pairs produced 26 known pups. | Graph: Growth of Oregon wolf population

Biologists captured and put tracking collars on 6 wolves. Data was received from 18 wolves throughout the year, which showed 4 of the wolves dispersed elsewhere in Oregon - and 3 left the state.

Meet Oregon's wolves

Imnaha Pack: The Imnaha Pack was first documented in 2009. The packs' long-time breeding female (OR2) was not with the pack in 2014. In her place a new breeding female produced only one known pup and by year's end no surviving pups were observed despite multiple observations of the pack. Therefore the pack was not counted as a breeding pair. Two radio-collars (1 GPS, 1 VHF) remained in the pack - OR4 (breeding male) and OR25 (other male). The pack showed a use area of 958 mi2 in 2014 and 26% of the pack's location data points occurred on private land, a decrease from 32% in 2013. Two depredation incidents were attributed to this pack in 2014.

Minam Pack: The Minam Pack was discovered within the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Minam Unit in June 2012. The pack produced at least three pups that survived to the end of the year and was counted as a breeding pair in 2014. The breeding female (OR20) was GPS-collared in May of 2013 and her data shows the pack using a 352 mi2 area, primarily public lands (89%).

Mt Emily Pack: This pack was first identified in 2013 in the central portion of the Mt Emily Unit. The breeding male is a radio-collared disperser from the Walla Walla Pack. A subadult female was collared (OR28) in 2014 and her data shows the pack using a 257mi2 area comprising 96% public lands. The pair produced at least four pups that survived to the end of the year and was counted as a breeding pair. Two depredation incidents were attributed to this pack in 2014.

Snake River Pack: The Snake River Pack was first discovered in the fall of 2011. The pack was counted as a breeding pair in 2014 with four pups surviving to the end of the year. Two radio-collared subadult wolves were monitored during the year, both dispersing from the pack by spring. The location data showed a pack area of 397 mi2 and 96% use of public lands within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Umatilla River Pack: First discovered in 2011 in the northern part of the Mt Emily Unit. The pair was counted as a breeding pair for the third year with at least two pups. This pack was responsible for three depredation incidents in 2014. The breeding male and another male are GPS radio-collared and collar data shows the pack using a 153 mi2 area with 87% of locations on private lands, 3% public land and 10% tribal land.

Wenaha Pack: This pack was first discovered in 2008. The pack produced four pups surviving to the end of the year in 2014, thus qualifying as a breeding pair. One female is GPS collared within this pack. In addition to the pack's traditional area (Wenaha unit), 12% of its locations occurred within the Sled Springs Unit in 2014. The collar data shows the pack using an 870 mi2 area with 85% of location data on public land. Though monitoring data showed a small amount of time (9%) spent in Washington, most of the packs locations, and the den, were in Oregon therefore this pack is counted in Oregon's wolf population.

Walla Walla Pack: This pack was first discovered in 2011. The pack produced at least four pups that survived to the end of the year and was counted as a breeding pair. Three collared wolves dispersed during the 2012/2013 winter, leaving no radio-collared wolves in the pack during 2014.

Meacham Pack: This newly formed pack was identified in 2014 in the southern portion of the Mt Emily Unit. One incident of depredation was attributed to the Meacham Pack in 2014. The pack produced two pups that survived to the end of the year and is counted as a breeding pair. The packs breeding male (OR26) was GPS-collared in May and his data shows the pack using a 95mi2 area which consists of 82% private land.

Rogue Pack: This new pack was first recognized in 2014 in the southern Cascade Mountains. The packs breeding male (OR7) is collared with a GPS-radio collar, and in 2014 he paired with a female, establishing a territory in the eastern Rogue and western Keno Units. The pair produced three pups that survived to the end of the year and was counted as a breeding pair in 2014. OR7's location data in 2014 shows the pack area of use at 355mi2, with 82% on public lands.

Other wolves

Catherine Pair: Both wolves, OR24 and OR27, are two year-old GPS-collared wolves from the Snake River (OR24) and Minam (OR27) packs. These wolves dispersed from their natal packs and paired in July of this year. Since that time the pair has been located in the upper elevation forested portions of the Keating and Catherine Creek Units, with most locations occurring within the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The area of use for both wolves is 232mi2 comprising 97% public lands.

Desolation Wolves: In December of 2014 tracks of two wolves were documented in the Desolation Unit (Grant County) by department biologists. Irregular reports of wolf activity have been received over the past year in this general area of National Forest, and department biologists documented two instances of a single wolf in this same area earlier in the year.

Chesnimnus Pair: In November of 2014, OR23 (a female from the Umatilla River Pack) dispersed to the northern portion of the Chesnimnus Unit and later paired with a male wolf. Prior to OR23's arrival in this area, at least four wolves had been documented in the same area during the summer, and three incidents of depredation were attributed to these wolves. All depredation incidents were prior to OR23 arriving. Collar data shows the new pair using a 380mi2 comprising 75% public lands.

Sled Springs Pair: In October of 2014, OR21 (a radio-collared female form the Wenaha Pack) dispersed to the central portion of the Sled Springs Unit and paired with a male wolf. Location data shows the pair use area at 287mi2, primarily on private lands (92%).

Keno Pair: In December 2014 and January 2015, evidence of a pair of wolves was documented in the western portion of the Keno Unit. It is an area where irregular reports of wolf activity were received over the past year.

South Snake Wolves: Evidence of wolf activity in the south Snake River Unit began as early as August 2014 and information of repeated use of this area (by wolves other than the Snake River Pack or the Imnaha Pack) was later documented in January 2015. Although evidence of at least two wolves was confirmed, little is known of these new wolves at the time of this report.

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