A yearling female wolf from Oregon’s Imnaha Pack trotted into Washington’s Blue Mountains last month.
According to ODFW’s January wolf management update, OR-5, an animal that hadn’t been heard from since late November, “was discovered in the north Blue Mountains of Washington by WDFW personnel on 1/20/11.”
Five days later, “A subsequent flight by ODFW visually confirmed the young female wolf had dispersed and is now in Washington. This is the first evidence of dispersal from this pack,” says ODFW.
WDFW officials were unavailable due to the Federal holiday. Tomorrow is also a furlough day for many state employees.
It’s been assumed for some time that there are wolves on Washington’s side of the Blue Mountains. WDFW’s draft management plan for the species says there have been “multiple public reports of wolves (there) dating back to at least 2006, including several groups of 2-5 wolves made in Garfield/Asotin and Walla Walla counties in 2008 and 2009.”
Confirmations have been more difficult to come by, until now apparently.
The state has at least two confirmed packs, Diamond Peak and Lookout.
Two others, Salmo and Cutoff Peak, spend a limited amount of time in Washington’s Pend Oreille County, according to state staffers.
ODFW reports that other members of the Imnaha Pack were spending considerable time in the Zumwalt area roughly halfway between Enterprise, Ore., and the Washington border.
That’s the area that a pair of wildlife photographers are said to have come across a calf elk kill and three wolves, according to a PDF sent to media outlets last week by greywolfnews.com, operated by Dale Denney of Bearpaw Outfitters in Northeast Washington.
Since at least 1999, wolves have been coming into Oregon from reintroduced packs in Central Idaho. The state’s first pack was documented in spring 2008.
The agency also said that the new three- or four-member “Walla Walla unit” hanging out 8 miles or so east of Milton-Freewater appears to be a different group of wolves than the nearby five-member Wenaha Pack because they located both in different areas on the same day.
“In addition, the close proximity of the tracks to Washington (approximately 3 miles) may indicate shared wolves between states,” reports ODFW.
Elsewhere in Northeast Oregon, last month state and federal agents followed up on reports in the Beulah Unit (nothing found), Mt. Emily Unit (tracks of a male wolf spotted heading west on Summit Road northwest of La Grande), Ukiah Unit (a lone wolf tracked for 13 miles in the North Fork John Day River), and Pearson Creek winter range (nothing found).