Umatilla wolves expand territory

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer November 01, 2013 11:12 am

Two Umatilla River wolf pack pups were collared Oct. 25 east of Weston after being inadvertently caught in traps meant for coyotes.

Both wolf pups, weighing 50 and 55 pounds, were trapped at the same time in two separate foot-hold traps. After being discovered, the trapper reported the wolves to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Biologists quickly responded and collared the two 6-month-old wolves with lightweight global positioning collars. A Fish and Wildlife report said these types of collars collect fewer locations than regular GPS collars, but this pack already has a GPS-collared adult providing location data. The GPS collars on these younger wolves should prove most useful when the wolves disperse.

The two pups were the third and fourth incidental captures in Oregon. The first was a member of the Walla Walla pack caught near Elgin. The second was a young female Imnaha pack wolf caught last winter outside Joseph. In each incident, the wolves were healthy and safely released.

As wolf numbers increase in the Weston area, so have sightings and suspected depredations. On Oct. 25, a 120-pound Suffolk lamb was found dead, a Fish and Wildlife report said.

The lamb was estimated to have died the previous evening and had been partially consumed. The owner reported a second sheep as missing.

The report said blood and wool patches were found in a scuffed area at the fence line, identifying the spot as the likely kill site. A bite mark with associated hemorrhage on the hide was located on the upper right rear leg and muscle tissues of the hind end showed evidence of premortem trauma and several hematomas within the tissue. Entrails were removed during predator’s feeding on the carcass and much of the hind end muscle tissue was consumed.

Fresh wolf tracks were found in a muddy section of road 80 yards from the carcass. The closest radio collar information from a wolf in the area was that of OR-14 who was in the area much of the following day.

Fish and Wildlife deemed the depredation a “probable” wolf kill.

In 2012, Umatilla River wolves killed sheep on the same property.