The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife identified a new area of known wolf activity in the Murderers Creek Wildlife Unit.
Ryan Torland, an ODFW district wildlife biologist, said the area in southern Grant County east of Seneca has seen at least two different wolves over the past three years.
One was black, he said, and it appears to have moved on about a year or two ago.
He told the Eagle a gray wolf started to show up roughly a year ago. Torland said this was throughout the winter and then disappeared in the spring.
He said the gray wolf started to show up more consistently from late July to early August this year. In late November, he said ODFW issued an “area of known wolf activity” for the gray wolf.
Torland said ODFW identified a pack of wolves in the Desolation Unit this year in March.
He said there are a pair of wolves in the Northside Unit. He said ODFW is not aware of the pair successfully raising a pup.
Torland said, if a pup survives through December, they consider it as part of the population of wolves in the area. He said ODFW assumes if the pup survived that long it will make it.
The agency counts the population from January through March, he said.
“So any wolves we count would meet those criteria of being recruited into the population,” he said.
Torland said ODFW’s official population count as of March was seven. With the agency’s recent designation at Murderers Creek, the unofficial count is now at eight.
He said he does not believe more wolves are in Northside, but he does think there might be more in Desolation.
According to ODFW’s website, an “Area of Known Wolf Activity” is an area designated by ODFW showing where resident wolves and packs have become established.
The agency defines an AKWA area off of actual wolf data or information verified by ODFW, not reports or other hearsay. The agency designates an area an AKWA after they have been able to document wolf activity consistently.
When ODFW notices repeated wolf activity, the agency will outline AKWA boundaries using actual location data points.
In situations where wolves are resident, but location data is limited, ODFW will use a fixed circle of a size based on home-range data from other packs.
ODFW will, from time to time, update AKWA’s as new information becomes available.
Wolves east of highways 395, 78 and 95 are federally and state delisted. ODFW is the lead management agency in this area and manages wolves under Phase III of the Wolf Plan.
The AKWA underscores what many in the community have noticed.
County Judge Scott Myers said he had a hunter friend who saw more wolves than elk this year.