By ANDREW SELSKY Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A newly established pack of wolves in Oregon has something to howl about. At least four pups have been born to the pack in the western part of the state, where they are still listed as endangered.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that a photo from a trail camera confirmed the pups' existence. Their fur gray with cream-colored streaks, three of them were photographed walking on an unpaved road with a larger wolf, with the fourth pup on the other side of the road and further back.
The existence of the pack was officially confirmed only early this year and then numbered three wolves.
The pups are growing fast. Officials with the federal and state wildlife departments placed a GPS collar on one of them, a 52-pound (23 kilogram), 5-month-old female, on Sept. 26 in the Umpqua National Forest. The collar's biodegradable foam spacer will continue allow the collar to fit as the wolf grows into an adult.
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Indigo wolf collared; pups born this year. . ODFW and USFWS staff collared a 52 lb female juvenile wolf from the Indigo group of wolves on Sept. 26, 2019 in the Umpqua National Forest. The GPS collar included a biodegradable foam spacer so the collar will continue to fit as the wolf grows into an adult; she is currently nearly six months old (wolf pups are born in mid-April). . The wolf is the 80th wolf collared in Oregon and the first one to be collared in the Indigo group of wolves. This group has been using the eastern portion of the Indigo unit (including the eastern parts of Douglas and Lane Counties) and were first recognized as resident wolves in this area in early 2019. . The annual wolf count/survey in early 2019 documented three adult wolves in the Indigo Group. A trail camera image taken on Aug. 27, 2019 shows the group had at least four pups this year. . ODFW and USFWS attempt to place a collar on at least one wolf in a resident group or pack to help monitor their movements. . Photos courtesy of ODFW. . . . . #Oregon #Wildlife #Wolves #IndigoPack
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"It's heartwarming to see photos of this wolf family running through the forests of western Oregon, but we've got to keep them protected," said Amaroq Weiss, senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed to take the wolf off the endangered species list. Wolves lost federal protection in eastern Oregon in 2011, though they still retain federal protection in the western two-thirds of the state
"If we want these wonderful animals to survive and flourish, we have to ensure the Trump administration doesn't take away their Endangered Species Act safeguards," Weiss said.
There are three packs in western Oregon. Most wolves in Oregon roam the eastern part of the state.
In April, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that Oregon was home to a record number of wolves, 20 years after the species returned to the state after being exterminated.
The number of known wolves in Oregon at the end of 2018 was 137, a 10% increase over the previous year.