The Indigo Pack in eastern Douglas County was one of eight new gray wolf packs in Oregon on Wednesday when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released its annual wolf report.
The report also said the state’s estimated wolf count is 158, which is an increase from 137 this past year. The ODFW also reported 16 livestock depredations in 2019, which represented a 43% decrease from the previous year.
Newcomers joining the Indigo Pack include Cornucopia, Desolation, Fivemile, Bear Creek, Clark Creek, Heppner and Keating. Three packs that previously qualified as packs — Snake River, South Snake and Wildcat — no longer have four individuals, according to the ODFW.
“The state’s wolf population continues to grow and expand its range, with three new packs in the Blue Mountains south of Interstate 84,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW wolf coordinator, said in a press release.
Indigo was on track to become a pack — which by ODFW standards is deemed as a group of four or more wolves — when a trail camera this past fall recorded four pups running with an adult. ODFW spokesperson Michelle Dennehy said the organization was waiting to see if the pups would survive the winter before giving Indigo pack designation. The report listed Indigo as a pack of five wolves.
The 16 wolf depredations of livestock is a decrease from the 28 confirmed last year, ODFW said. Nine of those came from the Rogue Pack, which resides mostly along the borders of Jackson and Klamath counties. The Indigo Pack, which has most recently been spotted south of the Lane County border and north of Diamond Lake, has no record of livestock depredations.
The Rogue Pack also may have lost its most iconic member. Gray wolf OR-7, which traveled Southern Oregon and northern California in search of a mate before becoming the patriarch of the Rogue Pack, is presumed dead, ODFW said. He wasn’t among the documented wolves in the state’s wolf count, even though his mate and offspring were. He would be 11 years old, which far exceeds the average 6- to 8-year lifespan for a wolf in the wild.
Most of Oregon’s wolf packs reside in the far northeastern part of Oregon, and wolves in Eastern Oregon were removed from the state’s endangered species list in 2015. Wolves west of state highways 395, 95 and 78 have federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, and anyone who takes, harms or kills a wolf with those protections can be slapped with penalties of up to a year in prison and fines of up to $100,000.