Signal helps identify gray wolf traveling in Northeast Oregon

<I>File photo</I><BR>Biologists are using radio collars to track gray wolves that migrate from Idaho.

WALLOWA - A female gray wolf from Idaho's Timberline Pack has been positively located in Oregon, using radio signals from her tracking collar.

The wolf, a 2- to 3-year-old female identified as B-300, has been wearing the collar since she was captured northeast of Boise by Idaho biologists in August 2006.

She's now traveling in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest near the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, between Medical Springs and Wallowa. Biologists have observed evidence of wolves in this area over the past six months.

Aerial searches for signals from wolf-tracking collars, specifically those which have been reported as missing from Idaho, helped the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife locate the wolf.

A signal was picked up Jan. 17, but the location of the animal was not confirmed. A ground search the next day turned up tracks which appeared to be of a wolf. Another aerial search Jan. 21 failed to pick up the signal, but on Jan. 23 the signal was picked up and a single wolf was visually identified.

This is the fifth confirmed wolf to have been found in the state. In March 1999, a radio-collared female was captured in the Middle Fork John Day River drainage, north of John Day, and returned to Idaho. In 2000, a collared wolf was found dead along Interstate 84 south of Baker City, and a wolf without a radio collar was found shot between Ukiah and Pendleton.

Just last July, a mature female wolf was found dead from a gunshot wound in Union County.

All four animals were confirmed to have been migrants from Idaho.

Experts have long predicted that wolves from the expanding Idaho population would continue to cross the Snake River and enter Oregon. Biologists have been investigating evidence of wolves in Northeast Oregon for some time.

The confirmed sighting of B-300 validates the suspected use of this area by wolves, but the presence of breeding pairs or packs has not been confirmed. State and federal biologists will regularly monitor the movement of this wolf and continue to look for other wolf activity in Oregon.

Russ Morgan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator, reminded the public it is illegal to shoot a wolf, even one mistaken for another animal. Any gray wolf which shows up in Oregon is listed as an endangered species under both state and federal law.

Killing an animal protected under the federal Endangered Species Act is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail, or both.

If a wolf attacks a human, any person may use lethal force to prevent or stop the attack. Such an incident must be reported to the Fish and Wildlife Service, at 541-786-3282, or 541-962-8584; or ODFW at 541-963-2138, within 24 hours. The wolf carcass must not be disturbed.

Individuals who see a wolf, or suspect or discover wolf activity are asked to immediately contact one of the following: ODFW Wolf Coordinator Russ Morgan in La Grande: 541-963-2138; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf coordinator John Stephenson, 541-312-6429; or the FWS La Grande Field Office: 541-962-8584.

More information on wolves and wolf management in Oregon is available on the website: (www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/).

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