Wolves on the Rise Throughout Oregon

Officials count at least 124 confirmed wolves—an 11 percent increase over the previous year.

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 2:25 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 4:16 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Wolf packs in Oregon were thriving in 2017, according to a new report from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). Biologists counted 124 wolves in Oregon over the past winter—an 11 percent increase over 2016.

This number (124) is not an accurate estimate of how many wolves may be living in Oregon—which may, in fact, be much higher. Instead, the count is based on verified evidence of wolves—visual sightings, examination of tracks, and photos from remote cameras—according to ODFW.

For more information, see Oregon's 2017 Annual Wolf Report. Some highlights of the report may be seen below:

  • The 12 wolf packs documented had a mean size of 7.3 wolves, ranging from 4-11 wolves. Another nine groups of 2-3 wolves each were also counted.
  • Known resident wolves now occur in Baker, Grant, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wasco counties.
  • 25 radio-collared wolves were monitored, including 19 wolves that were radio-collared during 2017.
  • Four collared wolves dispersed out of state (two to Idaho, one to Montana, one to Washington).
  • 13 wolf mortalities were documented, 12 of those human caused.
  • 54 percent of documented wolf locations were on public lands, 44 percent on private lands, and 2 percent on tribal lands.

“The wolf population continues to grow and expand its range in Oregon,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW Wolf Coordinator. “This year, we also documented resident wolves in the northern part of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains for the first time.”

At the end of 2017, ODFW had documented 12 wolf packs in the state. Of those 12, 11 were considered to have successful breeding pairs, meaning that at least two adults and two pups survived to the end of the year. This is a 38 percent increase over the amount of breeding pairs in 2016.

A total of four wolves were illegally killed in 2017, according to ODFW. Two of those slayings were in areas of the state where wolves remain on the Endangered Species List.

Three of those poaching investigations are ongoing with rewards for providing information ranging from $2,500-$15,000. The fourth case—involving a wolf trapped and shot in Union County—has been prosecuted. The culprit received 24 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, a hunting license suspension, and a total of $8,500 in fines.

There were 17 confirmed cases of wolves preying on livestock in 2017, out of 66 reports. This represents a downturn in livestock killings, of which there were 24 confirmed cases in 2016.

“It is encouraging to see the continued recovery of Oregon’s wolf population into more of their historic range,” said Governor Brown. "Despite this good news, ongoing issues of poaching and livestock depredation must be carefully considered as we explore more effective management and conservation practices."

The ODFW said that they provide non-lethal measures and advice for discouraging wolf attacks on livestock. Reducing attractants by removing carcass and bone piles is thought to be the single best action to keep from attracting wolves to areas of livestock.

When non-lethal measures are ineffective, the Wolf Plan allows for lethal control against depredating wolves. Five wolves were killed to address chronic livestock depredation in 2017 (four Harl Butte wolves taken by ODFW, one Meacham wolf taken by producer with permit).

CLICK HERE for our story on an Oregon rancher who was given the go-ahead to kill two wolves recently.

The report may be viewed in its entirety below.

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