Oregon's wolf population grows to at least 110 wolves in 2015 - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon's wolf population grows to at least 110 wolves in 2015

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A 72-pound female wolf of the Minam Pack, after being radio-collared in 2014. (Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) A 72-pound female wolf of the Minam Pack, after being radio-collared in 2014. (Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Pup of the Wenaha wolf pack, Wallowa County, in 2014. (Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) Pup of the Wenaha wolf pack, Wallowa County, in 2014. (Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

There are now at least 110 wolves in Oregon.

That is up 36 percent from the year prior, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's 2015 wolf report released Monday.

Wildlife workers completed late-winter surveys to establish how many wolf packs had bred and the minimum known number of wolves for the year.

The department uses tracks, remote camera footage and visual observations to count the wolves, which is why population figures are referred to as a "minimum known" population.

Wildlife biologists believe the actual number of wolves is higher than their estimated count.

ODFW documented 11 breeding pairs of wolves in 2015, up from nine the previous year.

A breeding pair is an adult male and female wolf that produce at least two pups that survive through the end of the year.

Reproduction was confirmed in 14 groups of wolves, and 33 pups born in 2015 are known to have survived through Dec. 31.

Known wolf groups occurred in parts of Baker, Grant, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties.

“As predicted, Oregon’s wolf population has continued to expand its range and grow in number,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “While northeast Oregon continues to have the highest number of wolves, there is also continued movement of wolves into southern Oregon.”

The rate of depredation of livestock by wolves decreased in 2015 despite the increase in wolf population, according to wildlife biologists.

ODFW investigators confirmed nine incidents of wolves killing livestock and two probable incidents. A total of 10 sheep, three calves and one working dog were killed by wolves, and another two calves and one lamb were injured.

Those numbers are down from 11 confirmed incidents and 32 livestock – two cattle and 30 sheep – lost in 2014.

A total of 29 percent of Oregon wolf packs were involved in livestock depredation. The majority, 77 percent, occurred on private land and most happened during the months of May, June, August and September.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance program distributed $174,428 in grants to 10 counties to address wolf-livestock conflict and compensate landowners who lost animals to wolves.

Most funds were used for preventative measures ($119,390) and for direct payment ($14,018) to livestock producers for confirmed losses.

While no wolves were killed by ODFW, agents or landowners due to livestock depredation, ODFW documented seven wolf deaths in 2015.

A 5-month-old pup was found dead in the Catherine Pack rendezvous area and appeared to die of natural causes. One wolf that died had a rodent in its stomach and the wolf tested positive for a chemical that is poisonous to animals. The cause of the death of the Sled Springs breeding male and female found dead in August is unknown. Three wolves were illegally shot.

A Baker City man pleaded guilty to shooting one of the wolves and was fined $2,000 and ordered to forfeit his rifle to the state. The other cases involving illegal activity are still open and anyone with information should call Oregon State Police.

ODFW continued its efforts to monitor Oregon’s wolf population by collaring an additional eight wolves over the year. At the end of 2015 there were collars on 11 percent of Oregon’s wolf population.

For the full report, go to www.odfw.com/wolves.

Copyright 2016 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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