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Northwest Wolf Populations Climb

File photo of a gray wolf.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
File photo of a gray wolf.

Wildlife experts from Oregon, Washington and California say wolf activity has been increasing in all three states.

Oregon first documented a successful wolf- breeding pair in 2008. Now the state has eight pairs and has begun talks to delist gray wolves as a part of its management plan.

Photos show there are at least two new wolf pups in the Rogue Pack. That's the pack of famous wandering wolf OR-7. It’s also the first pack in to live the western part of the state.

Russ Morgan, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator, said the state is starting to see rapid growth in wolf population numbers and their distribution.

“They’ve been successful in a fairly short period of time, and they’re continuing to expand,” Morgan said.

Two wolves from Northeast Oregon have recently struck out from their original packs. One has crossed a long distance near the Columbia River, traveled down the Cascade Mountains, and is now roaming around Western Oregon. New areas of known wolf activity have been designated in Klamath and Union counties.

"It sort of shows wolves' ability to travel and seek out new areas," Morgan said. "They really have a travel capability that's second to none. ... Where wolves will ultimately set up and thrive is still unknown."

California biologists have also recently spotted tracks and trail camera images that make them think a lone gray wolf has crossed the border from Oregon, although they haven't yet confirmed the evidence.

All the wolf movement has made ranchers nervous, with predatory attacks reported each year. The most recent confirmed depredation in Oregon was this past July in Umatilla County, when the Umatilla River Pack attacked four sheep.

Washington has confirmed 16 wolf packs. Officials there say wolf numbers in Washington are also continuing to rise and wolves’ distribution is expanding.

In Oregon, officials will hold meetings in October and November to decide whether to partially or fully delist gray wolves in the state.

"For those that like the idea of wolves in Oregon, recognizing there's some that don't, I think we do have a success story," Morgan said.

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