Officials started monitoring the area around Upper Minam River in June after a remote camera captured the image of a black lactating female wolf (above). Then, last week, they saw a pair of gray-colored adult wolves with five pups. They might not be related to the lactating female seeing as they’re a different color, and their home range is still unknown
ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said if at least two of the pups make it to the end of the year, it could bring the total number of breeding wolf pairs to five. In order to start the process of removing wolves from the state Endangered Species List, the gray wolf population east of the Cascades needs to have four breeding pairs of wolves for three consecutive years.
“We could potentially start that clock this year if we know at least four of these packs have at least two of their pups survive to Dec. 31,” Dennehy said.
So far this year, ODFW has documented five litters of wolf pups in Eastern Oregon. The state’s official count includes five pups for this new pack, five for the Umatilla River wolf pack, two for the Walla Walla pack, seven for the Wenaha pack, and three for the Snake River pack.
The state will have an official wolf count at the end of the year, Dennehy said. At the end of last year, ODFW documented 29 wolves statewide.