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NATURE

Idaho wolf crosses into Oregon

Idaho wolf numbers are estimated to hover around 115, with 10 breeding pairs   

February 24, 1999
Web posted at: 1:41 p.m. EST (1841 GMT)




An Idaho wolf has wandered into neighboring Oregon, becoming the first wolf sighted in that state since 1927, Defenders of Wildlife announced Feb. 19.

The wolf, known simply as B-45, comes from an area in Idaho where wolves were reintroduced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1995 and 1996. Defenders of Wildlife hails this news as a great step forward for wolf recovery in the United Sates.

"This is incredibly encouraging news," said Defenders President Rodger Schlickeisen. "That she has crossed into Oregon could mark the beginning of an increased area for wolf recovery. She may not find what she's looking for, and she could easily come right back into Idaho. But developments show that wolf reintroduction is working, and this could be the start of something exciting."

B-45 is a federally protected endangered gray wolf that is the offspring of two wolves transplanted from British Columbia. She was part of the Jureano Mountains Pack. B-45 wears a radio collar, which makes it easy to track her movements daily.

Currently, B-45 is in the headwaters of the John Day drainage. She apparently wandered there looking for a mate. With her chance of finding a mate in Oregon minimal and not belonging to a pack, B-45 has an uncertain future.

Fish and Wildlife Service officials, Oregon Fish and Wildlife biologists and representatives of the Nez Perce tribe -- which is working to re-establish wolf populations in Idaho on behalf of the Fish and Wildlife Service -- are keeping tabs on the wolf and making sure that she continues to remain trouble-free.

Upon hearing news of the Oregon wolf siting, Defenders of Wildlife reaffirmed its commitment to its $100,000 Wolf Compensation Trust which is used to compensate ranchers for all verified livestock losses to wolves.

"As the wolf recovery area starts to spread out, it is important to know that Defenders will keep its commitment financially to compensate ranchers for losses due to wolf kills," said Schlickeisen.

Ranchers and outfitters vehemently opposed the reintroduction out of fears that the wolves would put them out of business by killing livestock and decimating deer and elk populations.

However, livestock losses due to wolves have been well below what was expected, said Ed Bangs, head of wolf recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To date, Defenders of Wildlife has paid out approximately $70,000 to ranchers from the compensation fund.

Idaho wolf numbers are estimated to hover around 115, with 10 breeding pairs. If the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming can each sustain 10 breeding pairs for three consecutive years, gray wolves will be considered for removal from the endangered species list.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved


RELATED ENN STORIES:
Supreme Court will not hear wolf kill case
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Wolf debate gains a home on the Internet

RELATED SITES:
Wolf Recovery Foundation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Gray Wolf
Defenders of Wildlife: Wolf Compensation Trust
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