Tag: John Day River

Oregon and the wolf

Sharing a beautiful aspect of this new home State of ours.

Let’s face it, Jean and I know as much about Oregon as we know about Timbuktu! A house and property requiring much love and care and 10 dogs, 5 cats and 2 miniature horses does rather cramp one’s style!  Actually, let me be honest.  We just adore the grounds that surround the house.  Almost every single walk around the property with or without a few dogs brings some new discovery.  Thus we are not lusting to get out.

Just by way of example, yesterday we discovered that the dam built across our creek, just upstream of the bridge, was used in days long ago for creating flood irrigation.  That’s the dam in the picture below.  The old plank and steel work are still in the undergrowth alongside the creek; to the right of the picture.

Irrigation dam on Bummer Ck.
Irrigation dam on Bummer Ck.

OK, to the point of this post.

Shortly after we arrived here in Merlin, Oregon we joined Oregon Wild.  Their Mission Statement says: Oregon Wild works to protect and restore Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife and waters as an enduring legacy for all Oregonians.  Can’t argue with that!

Last December a press release was issued about Bringing Wolves Back Home to Oregon.  Here’s part of that release.

Wolves in Oregon:

Gray wolves (Canis lupus) were once common in Oregon, occupying most of the state. However, a deliberate effort to eradicate the species was successful by the late 1940s.

Trouble for wolves began before Oregon even became a state. In 1843 the first wolf bounty was established and Oregon’s first legislative session was called in part to address the “problem of marauding wolves”. By 1913, people could collect a $5 state bounty and an Oregon State Game Commission bounty of $20. The last recorded wolf bounty was paid out in 1947.

After an absence of over half a century, wolves began to take their first tentative steps towards recovery. Having dispersed from Idaho, the native species is once again trying to make a home in Oregon. One of the first sightings came in 1999 when a lone wolf was captured near the middle fork of the John Day River, put in a crate and quickly returned to Idaho. In 2000, two wolves were found dead – one killed by a car, the other illegally shot.

In 2006, a flurry of sightings led state wildlife biologists to believe that a number of wild wolves were living in Northeast Oregon near the Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness. In May of 2007 a wolf was found shot to death near La Grande, OR.

As I explain on this blog, there is a deep connection between dogs and wolves:

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.  See an interesting article by Dr. George Johnson.

Back to Oregon Wild.  Just three weeks ago came this update.

State Announces Wolf Recovery Numbers

With the state’s wolf killing program on hold, conservationists celebrate recent success, express concern for the future.

SALEM, OR Jan 16, 2013

Today the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced the state’s wolf population has risen to at least 53 animals and as many as five breeding pairs. Though still mostly confined to the Northeastern corner of the state, the news was welcomed by conservationists.

The confirmation of wolf numbers comes on the heels of a number of announcements of new wolf pups, interbreeding between packs, and new science demonstrating the important and irreplaceable role wolves and other native hunters play on the landscape.

The announcement also comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of another great wolf recovery story. On December 28, 2011, a wolf known as Journey (OR-7) crossed the Oregon border to become the first wolf in California in nearly a century. The story was celebrated around the world.

Read the rest of this good news story here.  But I couldn’t resist showing you this photograph that appeared in that story.

These wolf pups born to the Wenaha Pack in 2012 helped get recovery back on track. But their future remains tenuous (photo courtesy ODFW)
These wolf pups born to the Wenaha Pack in 2012 helped get recovery back on track. But their future remains tenuous (photo courtesy ODFW)

Let me close with these two videos.

Imnaha alpha female wolf, July 2011

Snake River Wolf Pack howling

Published on Aug 1, 2012

On July 25, 2012, an ODFW wolf biologist on a survey for wolf pups took this video of a Snake River wolf pack pup howling. The video was taken in the Summit Ridge area within the Snake River Wildlife Management Unit, in Wallowa County.

In the video, the pup howls three times. A low returning howl is heard and the pup gets up. Then, other members of the wolf pack (not seen in the video) return the pup’s howls.

Wolves are highly social animals and howling is a common behavior that help packs communicate and stay together. Wolf howls can be heard from several miles away.

More information on wolves in Oregon can be found at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves.