Oregon is home to new wolf pups!
Oregon's Imnaha and Wenaha packs are home to at least four new pups (each)!
On Monday the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) reported collaring a 2 year old female wolf of the Wenaha pack - now named OR-13. This is the same wolf that was captured and tagged as a pup (she was too small for a collar then, see pictures below) and photographed a year later. But that’s not the big news.
Buried below the headline, ODFW reported that there are at least four known pups in both the Inmaha and Wenaha packs.
This is astounding news! After an absence of over half a century, Oregon’s wolves have produced litters of pups in each of the last four years. This is a positive sign of a healthy wolf recovery in Oregon and a victory for conservation!
Most Americans value native wildlife, and Oregonians are no exception. This is exactly the kind of news we like to hear. In light of Journey’s historic trek that made headlines around the world, it is very apparent that the wolf stories the public craves are the positive stories, the triumphs of ecological restoration, and the true stories of our own redemption.
Now, we do not have a picture of one of these new wolf pups to show you, but to remind you of how cute and charismatic they are, here is a photo from the Boise zoo (courtesy of Patrick Graham, Defenders of Wildlife). A few weeks ago, this wolf pup was mistaken for a puppy by a group of campers in Idaho, and they brought him to a vet only to find out he was not a dog, but a baby wolf!
Sadly, efforts to relocate the pack and reunite the pup were unsuccessful. Given that Idaho’s wolves are under the gun, it may be a mixed blessing that the pup will now live out its life in a zoo, but it’s a good reminder to leave wildlife alone.
The exciting new chapter in the story of Oregon’s wolves is a reminder about the positive story of wolf recovery and the importance of conservation. It’s also a reminder of how tenuous Oregon’s wolf recovery remains and why it’s so important for those who value wildlife to remain vigilant. The Imnaha Pack were among one of the first to have pups and establish themselves in the state of Oregon. Over the last few years we have watched their pack – and their pups grow. We watched as Journey captured imaginations around the world, and we were saddened when his brother was shot by a poacher in Idaho.
Thankfully, this news means the pack continues to thrive and grow. It hasn’t been easy. On three occasions, the state has put out kill orders for pack members and killed at least two Imnaha wolves on purpose. For the past year, at the request of one of Oregon's most vocal anti-wolf activists, the state has been fighting in court to take out the pack.
When a judge ruled the killing program is likely illegal, anti-wolf interests went to Salem and tried to change the law. These pups are a stark reminder that if not for our defense of wolves, and basic protections for wildlife, they would not even exist!
The Imnaha pack is most famous for a lone wolf named OR-7. We now know him as Journey. Through the months, we have tracked Journey’s passage southwest thorough the state of Oregon, where he became the first wolf in Western Oregon in over 65 years. Journey then became world famous for travelling over 2,000 miles and becoming the first wolf in the state of California in over 90 years.
Maybe we will even see OR-13 (shown above as a pup in 2010, in the fall of 2011, and just earlier this week. Photos courtesy of ODFW) or one of these pups trek farther than Journey! Maybe they’ll be the first to have pups in Western Oregon.
Maybe others already have...The state continues to look for OR-3, a lone male wolf last seen around Prineville (and seen before that by Oregon Wild staff in the Eagle Cap).
The report of the new pups is the kind of news that gives conservationists hope. Unfortunately, more often than not it is the bad news and the unnecessary controversies that grab the headlines, and the truly newsworthy is forgotten as merely a footnote.
So let’s celebrate this victory for the sake of every struggling species on the planet. It is always great news to see new life, but especially in a species that embodies the idea of freedom and wilderness in a state like Oregon. Wolf recovery in Oregon is still on track! Three cheers for the wolves! And three cheers for those of you who give them a voice!