Idaho Wolf shows up in northeast Oregon
Below is the first story of B45F and her journey to become the Blue Mountain Wolf, and the subsequent attempts to send her back to Idaho or keep her in Oregon
Feb. 18, 1999, and updated 2-21, 2-22, 2-24, 2-26, 2-27, 3-1, 3-2, 3-5, 3-13, 3-15, 3-16, 3-19
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife News Release (Feb. 1999):
A lone gray wolf from Idaho apparently crossed the Snake River and is moving through northeast Oregon in search of a mate. The federally endangered wolf, number B-45F, has a radio collar allowing biologists to track her day to day while they consider their options.
The female gray wolf was captured and collared as a yearling and was part of the Jureano Mountain Pack west of Salmon, Idaho. "She presents a somewhat odd situation for us because Oregon is not part of the wolf recovery effort," said Mark Henjum, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in LaGrande. "We're working closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and Nez Perce tribal biologists on what to do next." Ed Bangs is the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the USFWS in Helena, Montana, and is familiar with B-45. "She appears to be doing normal wolf stuff," said Bangs. "Most wolves never cause problems. But if they do, we have proven strategies in place to deal with that. The fact that she has a radio collar makes it relatively easy to deal with the animal because we know where she is at all times."
B-45 is the offspring from two wolves transplanted from British Columbia, Canada, to Idaho in 1996.
The Nez Perce tribe is working to reestablish wolf populations in Idaho on behalf of the USFWS. The State of Idaho opted to not participate in the reintroduction effort. Oregon has no plans to participate in wolf reintroduction, either, but biologists agree that we'll see more wolves visit Oregon in the future. "The rate at which that may happen is not something to be worried about," said Curt Mack, Nez Perce Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator. "This is not a mass migration of wolves to Oregon. All the wolves have settled and formed packs and pairs in a gradual way - the bulk of the wolves have stayed in the restoration area." Currently, B-45 is in the headwaters of the John Day drainage. She's a yearling female looking for a mate, according to Bangs. He expects she won't find that in Oregon and may even eventually return to Idaho. "About half the dispersing wolves wander all over creation looking for a mate. The other half move out and stake claims of about 300-400 square miles, scent mark the boundaries, and wait for a mate."
Capturing the wolf and moving it back to Idaho is an option, especially if it causes any problems. It is a federally endangered animal and is protected, said Bangs, but the recovery plan offers some flexibility to deal with problem wolves. "People are concerned about human safety, but in the history of North America, a healthy wild wolf has never deliberately attacked and seriously injured a human," said Bangs. Wolves rarely attack livestock, but if someone suspected an attack, that person should contact the US Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services to investigate. If a wolf was involved, USFWS staff would take corrective action which could include killing the wolf or capturing and relocating the animal.
2-21-99. But now Oregon Fish and Wildlife and some ag interests want her returned. Article in Oregonian. I would urge Oregonians to insist on keeping this wolf and refuse to be pushed around by these backward interests.
Defenders of Wildlife Hails Event, promises compensation.
2-22-99. Looks like the pressure is to move the wolf back to Idaho. There is some indication that more than one wolf is in NE Oregon. Article in Oregonian.
2-24-99. The story has made its way to CNN. The CNN story offers little new info, but it's good the story has gone national. I could help.
2-26-99. Latest indications are the wolf may be moving back to Idaho. I talked with Ed Bangs, and he said the wolf had been tracked by a biologist afoot; and the biologist was quite sure the wolf is alone, not with other uncollared wolves as some have speculated. Bangs said there were no immediate plans to capture the wolf and return it to Idaho.
2-27-99. An Idaho wolf in Oregon - Long lost wolf may be returned. Post Register by Candice Burns. This is a feature article about the Idaho wolf that moved to Oregon. . . . well, I guess it's an Oregon wolf now. This "Mark Henjum, regional biologist for Oregon Fish and Wildlife" who says the rules say the wolf must be returned to Idaho doesn't sound like a very progressive biologist, and he may be wrong about the rules. Ed Bangs told me that have much discretion on whether to return a wolf to the recovery area or let it stay. Henjum's dead wrong about there not being enough wilderness in NE Oregon for wolves. NE Oregon has the biggest wilderness area in Oregon, several smaller wilderness areas, and lots of semi-primitive country. It's certainly as good wolf country as northwestern Montana.
3-1-99. Tracking a lone wolf's path to the future. Oregonian by Bill Monroe. Another interesting story. Suggests Oregon just can't handle this wolf. The state has to be prepared . . . kind of like Y2K I guess ;-)
3-1 more. . . I talked with Roy Herberger of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today. He said the wolf is not presently moving back to Idaho, and has moved to near John Day (a town) in thick timber. She is good-sized gray female. He told me he had been on the phone constantly with NE Oregon folks. His view was there were no facilities in place to capture her, but they would try to eventually if she moves into the open. They want her genes to contribute to the Idaho population. She has no chance of finding a mate in Oregon, but she may find trouble. Oregon agencies and residents need to be prepared, but few had actively thought about having wolves in the state so soon.
3-2. Wolf, bane of cattle ranchers, shows up alone again. Oregonian. That's kind of a negative headline, especially in view of the fact that she's in such remote country they have no present chance of catching her. Anyway, as of today, she's in rugged country in Oregon's Blue Mountains.
3-5. Wolf too hard to capture for the time being? If no. 45 stays in such rugged country it might be summer before she is recaptured says story in the Oregonian.
3-13. US Fish and Wildlife Service Reports that B45F, who is being called "Katie" or also "Blue Mountain Wolf," has moved into the lower end of Bear Creek, a rugged, heavily-timbered tributary to the deep canyon of the Middle Fork of the John Day River. The nearest community is Galena.
3-15. Roving wolf the tip of the pack, officials say. Oregonian. The Blue Mountain wolf will only be the first such wolf, officials are beginning to realize.
3-15. Wildlife Biologist George Wuerthner refutes arguments that Blue Mountain wolf should return to Idaho. Wuerthner is an expert on wildlife, predators, grazing, and is also a famous photographer of natural landscapes.
3-16. Gray wolf heads into tall timber, foils her captors. Oregonian. Attempts to capture B45F continue to fail.
3-19. The Blue Mountain wolf had moved into lighter timber, but yesterday she moved back into heavy timber in the West Fork of Lick Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the John Day River.
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