Update on WA Blue Mtns. Wolf

Update on that yearling Oregon wolf sighted in Washington’s Blue Mountains last month and which we reported on earlier this week. It has been heard but not seen by WDFW officials.

“We have heard its collar with our telemetry equipment,” confirms wildlife biologist Paul Wik who is based in Clarkston. “Where we heard it was 80 air miles from where it was collared.”

In its January wolf update PDF, ODFW reported that the Imnaha Pack member, a yearling female known as OR-5, was “discovered” Jan. 20 by WDFW then visually spotted five days later during a flight by Oregon officials.

Wik says that it hasn’t been located in the weeks since.

The wolf was one of three collared over two days in February 2010 by ODFW wolf coordinator Russ Morgan. It disappeared from the radar back in late November. Morgan says it’s common for wolves to disperse in winter.

FEMALE IMNAHA PACK WOLF COLLARED FEB. 13, 2010, BY ODFW. (ODFW)

This is also the thick of the mating season for Canis lupus.

It is not the first confirmed wolf on Washington’s side of the Blues.

“We’ve heard them, we’ve gotten remote camera pics, seen tracks in snow,” says Wik.

None have been captured, however.

In recent weeks, the “Walla Walla unit” of wolves has been observed about 8 miles east of the Milton-Freewater and several miles south of the Oregon-Washington border.

“We’ve also had a large number of reports in that same area over the last couple years,” says Wik.

He urges anyone who spots wolves in Washington to call (888) 584-9038 with their reports.

“We appreciate any sightings people may have,” he says. “There’s definitely more people out in the woods than we have.”

In other wolf news, WDFW is looking for tips in a case involving the skinned carcass of a male discovered in the North Cascades in fall 2009, a trio of wolf-related bills before the Legislature — HBs 1107, 1108 and 1109 — are basically dead, and a Methow Valley resident who has previously reported watching the Lookout Pack details some of the questions that a British Broadcasting Company team filming there asked him today.

And outside the state, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula took arguments from federal and environmental groups on the question of whether the 10(j) wolf-culling rule can apply to areas where reintroduced and naturally reoccuring packs may intermingle.

UPDATE FEB. 26, 2011: The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin yesterday reported on a recent wolf encounter in the Bennington Lake area, written about in a letter to the editor published earlier this week.

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