Staff from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service confirmed Friday morning that a wolf group located in the Umpqua National Forest has given birth to pups.
A photo taken from a trail camera showed four wolf pups walking along a trail in the Umpqua National Forest on Aug. 27. They are part of the Indigo group of wolves, which were discovered as a group of wolves north of Toketee Falls and Highway 138E earlier this year.
In addition, staff from the ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service collared a 52-pound, six-month old juvenile wolf on Sept. 26, according to an email from the ODFW. It’s a GPS collar that includes a biodegradable foam spacer so the collar will continue to fit as the wolf grows into an adult.
The group has been seen in Lane and Douglas counties. Its presence marked the first time since the reintroduction of the species into Oregon’s wildlife that wolves had been spotted in Douglas County. The last time a gray wolf was presented for bounty in Douglas County was 1946.
“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,” Amaroq Weiss, senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Associated Press.
Wolves in western Oregon currently have protection as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. They lost federal protection in eastern Oregon in 2011, though they still retain federal protection in the western two-thirds of the state.
The wolf is the 80th wolf collared in Oregon and the first one to be collared in the Indigo group of wolves. ODFW and Forest Service workers make it a point to place a collar on at least one wolf in a resident group or pack to help monitor their movements.
The ODFW doesn’t consider the Indigo group to be a pack yet. Michelle Dennehy of the ODFW said Friday night the department defines a pack as four or more wolves together in the winter, meaning the ODFW plans to monitor the Indigo group to see how many pups survive.
There were 16 documented wolf packs in Oregon this past winter, with all but three residing in eastern Oregon. Most of the documented activity from the Indigo group has come near the Lane-Douglas county line north of Toketee Falls and Highway 138E.