WDFW is reporting that a second wolf captured and collared in Oregon is now haunting the north side of the Blue Mountains.
OR14, described as the former breeding male of the Umatilla Pack wandering outside of its usual range, was recorded southwest of Dayton yesterday, according to a report from the agency citing ODFW data.
The other Oregon wolf is OR15, which was spotted during an aerial survey earlier this month traveling with still another animal in the upper Tucannon River basin.
Originally from Northeast Oregon’s Snake River Pack, OR15 has been hanging out in Southeast Washington since April, according to a fact sheet sent out by WDFW late this afternoon.
It’s been ranging across several counties, and recently turned up near Cloverland, which sparked a recent set of stories in the Lewiston Morning Tribune.
At last report, it was near the Grande Ronde River, according to WDFW.
The telemetry devices worn by the two males allow state wildlife managers to pinpoint their travels and give locals a head’s up about their movements.
“Based on the collar data, WDFW staff are informing dozens of local livestock producers of the wolves’ general locations, and steps they can take to prevent contact between the wolves and their stock,” said a fact sheet from the agency.
It stressed that the wolves were not involved in a confirmed or probable depredation of two sheep well to the north, in northern Whitman County, which is on the north side of the Snake River.
ADDENDUM 11:40 A.M., DEC. 24, 2014
Earlier this week I asked WDFW officials what they were going to call OR15 and its companion, spotted in the upper Tucannon River drainage during an early December aerial survey.
After all, the definition of a pack of wolves is two traveling together in winter.
True, it was technically still fall when WDFW wolf biologist Trent Roussin spotted the duo at the start of the annual winter counts, but apparently that does not necessarily mean that they’re a pack.
“One flight, one time, we’re not ready to say that’s a pack,” said the agency’s Madonna Luers in Spokane.
She acknowledges that there have been numerous local reports of wolves traveling together.
“We’re not disputing that, but if we jumped every time we heard reports of wolves, we’d probably have twice as many packs” on the official state wolf map, she said.
The pair could have just happened to cross paths when Roussin’s airplane flew over, or perhaps had been fighting over a fresh kill.
Luers says that district wildlife biologist Paul Wik has hung numerous trail cams in the area, and says she wouldn’t be surprised if more proof of a pack turns up soon.
“We’ve long thought we’d have a pack down there,” Luers says, but WDFW has been puzzled by why they’ve stuck to the Oregon side of the Blue Mountains for denning.