Trail cameras have captured candid photos of some new wolves roaming in northeastern Oregon's Umatilla County. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday two of the images, taken this month, are the first photos of members of the new Walla Walla pack that seems to be forming in the border area between Oregon and Washington.
Department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said biologists have been seeing tracks since last winter, but these are the first photos to confirm the wolves are in Umatilla County. It is not known yet whether the group is breeding, and just what its range is.
"We are still trying to sort out what that pack is doing," she said.
Another photo shows last year's pup from the Wenaha pack grown up as a yearling. It was taken in Wallowa County. The black wolf is shown glowering at the camera. It has green tags in both ears.
At this point, there are no radio-tracking collars on the Walla Walla or Wenaha packs.
Only the Imnaha pack, which has been blamed for several livestock kills, can be tracked with radio collars. One of those wolves returned to Wheeler County one to Idaho and one to Washington, though the signal from that wolf has not been picked up in a while, Dennehy said.
State biologists keep close watch over the wolves in Oregon to minimize attacks on livestock, and to track their numbers and breeding success. Under the Oregon Wolf Plan, four breeding pairs must produce pups for three consecutive years before the animals can be taken off the state endangered species list for Eastern Oregon.