Idaho's Wolves on the Move?

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Another Idaho wolf has wandered into eastern Oregon - this one a radio-collared female wolf from the Timberline Pack.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists just found the two- to three-year-old wolf in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest near the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. The biologists had received reports of wolf activity in that area and were searching for missing wolf radio-collars from Idaho.

Idaho Fish and Game biologists had put a radio-collar on the wolf - identified as B-300 - northeast of Boise in August 2006.

Oregon biologists observed only a single wolf. But it was the fifth confirmed wolf to be found in Oregon.

In March 1999, a radio-collared female was captured near 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. In July 2007, a mature female wolf was found dead from a gunshot wound in Union County.

All four wolves were from Idaho.

Wolves in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and other parts of eastern Oregon and Washington are included in the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its intention to remove this population from the endangered species list. A final rule is expected on February 29 and would take effect March 29.

Wolves would remain on the list in the rest of the two states.

In Idaho, four wolves from a pack that has killed at least two calves have been shot. This pack has been implicated in several depredations on cattle over the last few months.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services confirmed the Buffalo Ridge pack killed two calves in December on private land near Clayton.

Aircrews killed three gray wolves in December. In January, they shot a fourth wolf from the pack along the East Fork of the Salmon River near Clayton.

Wolf biologists estimate the wolf population at the end of 2007 is about 730 wolves in 82 packs with 43 breeding pairs. Federal agents confirmed wolves killed 52 cattle, 170 sheep and six dogs. A total of 76 wolves were confirmed dead - 43 killed by federal predator control actions, seven by ranchers, and 26 died of other causes.

Meanwhile, research in Yellowstone National Park shows that early winter wolf predation fell back into its typical pattern of nearly all elk. Kills were about 40 percent calves, 40 percent bulls, and 20 percent old cows. The composition of prey varies from year-to-year and is probably related to relative vulnerability because of environmental variables, such as drought, forage quality, snow depth and time of year.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the wolf recovered in the northern Rocky Mountains and has started the process to remove the wolf from the federal endangered species list. The Fish and Wildlife Service's weekly wolf reports as well as annual reports, can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/.