Wolf sightings increase in region

February 05, 2014 11:00 am

ENTERPRISE — The Imnaha Wolf Pack’s alpha male was captured and outfitted with a GPS collar this weekend — for the fourth time since 2009.

The wolf known as OR-4 was sought by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists Saturday out in the open country of Zumwalt Prairie.

“The only reason we recollared OR-4 was because of the livestock community,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf biologist. “With all the issues going on with this pack, knowing where he is is key to being able to function a little better.”

Data gathered from GPS collars, like the ones that OR-4 has worn, have been used as evidence in livestock depredations over the past four years. 

“We have 15,000 data points from that pack and we didn’t necessarily need more information,” Morgan said. “The only reason to collar him is to assist with depredation issues the best we can.” 

Morgan said OR-4 has been running with two other wolves and Friday was the first time they were out on the prairie for some time. Due to weather, the ODFW was unable to fly, but sunny skies on Saturday allowed biologists to dart him from the air.

“You cannot dart wolves skilled at evading helicopters in the timber,” Morgan said. “I am proud we were able to get him the first time he came out. It doesn’t always work that way.”

He said they were unable to collar the other two wolves seen with him.

While OR-4 was being collared on the prairie, district biologists were called out to the Alder Slope neighborhood of rural Enterprise to look at what appeared to be wolf tracks. Mike Hanson said he documented tracks at a home Saturday morning.

Barrie Qualle, who lives approximately two miles from where Hanson was looking at tracks, said he found some in his own yard.

“I think that wolves are getting awfully bold when they come right down your driveway and into your yard,” Qualle said. “Should we have to put up with wolves coming right into our yards when we have pets, and kids and animals?”

Morgan said so far Alder Slope is not considered an area of known wolf activity, a designation that ODFW gives when wolves make an area part of their home range.

Morgan said that mountain lions are on the move this time of year as well as wolves and, he said, residents should remove anything that might attract them close to a home like carcasses and bone piles or leaving pets outside overnight or letting them run at large.

The Imnaha pack has used the Prairie Creek neighborhood outside of Joseph as part of its home range for many years. Recently, members of the pack killed a ewe at the base of Wallowa Lake’s east moraine.

The ODFW posted a notice Tuesday that a new area of wolf activity has been designated in the southern Catherine Creek Unit and the northern Keating Unit. Tracks of five wolves were first documented in late December in the Medical Springs area, after the department followed up a track report from an area landowner. 

The notice said since December, the group’s tracks were relocated three times, including last week in northern Baker County. The repeated use of the area over a period of time indicates that wolves have become established and are not simply dispersing wolves. However, the state has little data regarding the specifics of this group like their origin, reproductive status and their home range. Future monitoring efforts will focus on more location data and radio collaring.

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.