Wolf captured north of Elgin, fitted with GPS tracking collar

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer November 05, 2012 02:58 pm

 OR-16, an 85-pound male wolf, was captured on private land north of Elgin Friday. ODFW photo
OR-16, an 85-pound male wolf, was captured on private land north of Elgin Friday. ODFW photo

85-pound male caught in trap meant for another predator; marks the first time a wolf has been collared in Union County 

A yearling wolf was radio-collared Nov. 2 north of Elgin. The 85-pound male was captured in a region where wolves had not been documented until now.

The wolf was caught on private land in a USDA Wildlife Services trap set for another predator to protect sheep, said the agency’s State Director Dave Williams. 

Each year, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issues an “Incidental Take” permit to Wildlife Services that contains provisions to minimize the risk of incidental captures and to protect wolves if captured.

Russ Morgan, state wolf biologist, defined an incidental take as a “take” that is not planned.

The permit requires close coordination between the two agencies and in this situation the result was a successfully collared wolf released in excellent health.

“We appreciate that they called us and the animal was in great shape,” said Morgan. “This gives us an opportunity – when we have these situations and can get a collar on an unharmed wolf. It’s great information for everyone.”

This is the first wolf to be collared in Union County. It is unknown if the wolf is part of any of the three identified nearby packs – Wenaha, Walla Walla and Umatilla River – or if it represents new wolf activity.

Biologists expect that the new GPS collar and DNA information will tell if the yearling is related to any of the nearby packs or if he’s a disperser.

Morgan said, “There are two ways we’ll find out, data from the collar and genetics. We’re going to learn a lot in the next couple weeks.”