Wildlife officials in Oregon say a new wolf is roaming the wooded hills near Klamath Falls. It’s in some of the same territory staked out by OR-7, the famous wandering wolf.
Over the past month, wildlife biologists have found wolf tracks and a trail camera captured a partial image of a wolf in the southwest Oregon Cascades, near the border with California. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Michelle Dennehy says the wolf is not member of the newly-designated Rogue Pack, which is tracked by GPS collar.
“The area that this wolf is using is actually within an established Area of Known Wolf Activity for the Rogue Pack, OR-7’s pack. That’s the wolf that went to California,” she said. “But data from OR-7’s collar shows they have not been using this area recently.”
In addition, Dennehy says OR-7’s un-collared pups are too young to have left the pack.
The confirmation of a new wolf, or possibly wolves, in south-central Oregon is positive news for Rob Klavins, a field coordinator with Oregon Wild.
“We know that there are probably more wolves out there just the ones that can be documented, but Oregon still has a pretty small, fragile recovering population,” he says.
The area where the wolf has been confirmed is protected by both the state and federal Endangered Species Act.
Klavins says there’s a still a lot of habitat in Oregon that can support wolf populations. Wolves are slowly beginning to move in to places like Southern and Eastern Oregon.
Just last month, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed regular wolf traffic in another new area south of Pendleton. Officials designated the region an “Area of Known Wolf Activity” after the tracks of two wolves were documented in mid-December.
ODFW officials are currently working up similar documentation for the sightings in the Klamath Falls area, providing a map and resources to local communities to help avoid conflict.
“That allows us to coordinate with any livestock producers in the area. To let them know where the wolf might be and things that they might do to reduce any risk of problems with the wolf,” says ODFW’s Dennehy.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association advocates the use of lethal force against wolves that kill livestock. The Jackson County Stockmen’s Association did not return a request for comment, but the Capital Press reports the group is mobilizing to tap into a state compensation fund in case of livestock depredation.
Dennehy says ODFW has received no reports of wolf conflict in the region where it was sighted.
Not much is currently known about he new wolf – including its sex, age or origin. It’s also unknown if the wolf will remain in the area long term. Oregon Wild’s Klavins says finding a new wolf separate from the Rogue Pack in Southern Oregon is a big step forward in recovery.
“It gives an indication that things are maybe better than we hoped that they would be,” he said.