The Imnaha wolf pack in northeast Oregon had at least one pup this year.
Footage captured July 16, by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employee show a black-colored pup travelling with the Imnaha pack’s alpha female (its mother). So far, photographs and visual observations have turned up only one pup for the Imnaha pack this year, but more pups may be found.
The photos are available at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/images/photo_gallery/wolf_update_2011_august/
Young wolves will naturally leave a pack and move to new areas. Several members of the Imnaha pack dispersed from the pack in the past few months.
Three-year-old male wolf OR-3 (named because he was the third wolf collared in Oregon) was located by ODFW southeast of Fossil (Wheeler County) on July 30.
ODFW searched the Fossil area using radio telemetry after a member of the public captured the image of a wolf on his trail camera in the west Blue Mountains. OR-3 had last been located north of Wallowa on May 10 when he was captured in a video.
OR-3 is now west of the Hwy 395-78-95 boundary, in the part of the state where wolves are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, in addition to Oregon’s ESA. Time will tell if OR-3 stays in the Fossil area, moves on or even goes back to Wallowa County.
A second collared wolf, two-year-old male OR-9, swam across the Brownlee Reservoir into Idaho on July 18. ODFW notified wildlife managers in Idaho about his presence.
This brings to three the number of wolves known to have dispersed from the Imnaha pack. OR-5 went to Washington State last winter when she was 1.5 years old.
ODFW does not have evidence that any of these three collared wolves (OR-3, OR-5, OR-9) have joined a new wolf pack yet.
Other uncollared members of the Imnaha pack may have dispersed with the radio-collared wolves or gone their own way. The latest observations and data suggest the Imnaha pack now has four adult wolves (three of them collared), plus the new pup.
“Wolf packs are dynamic and rarely stay the same size over time,” noted Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “A pack can be healthy despite these natural fluctuations in numbers, as long as a breeding pair of wolves, the alpha male and female, is maintained.”
Trail cameras also captured images of four adult wolves from the Wenaha pack travelling in the Wenaha unit of the northern Blue Mountains area during the summer. No pups were seen on the footage. ODFW will continue to monitor this pack for pups and to try and collar members from this pack.
Wolf pups are born in mid-April, with litters typically averaging four to six pups. The pups go outside the den and become more active beginning in June. ODFW devotes part of the summertime to determining if wolf packs have reproduced.