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Two new Oregon wolves fitted with tracking collars

GRANTS PASS — State biologists are busy trapping the growing wolf population in northeastern Oregon and fitting them with tracking collars.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says that so far in May, two males have been fitted with GPS collars to give daily satellite position reports like the ones that chronicled OR-7’s incredible journey from northeastern Oregon into Northern California in search of a mate. The position reports also alert ranchers when wolves are near livestock.

Oregon’s wolf population has grown to at least 65 since the species was reintroduced into the Northern Rockies in the 1990s. Most are in the northeastern corner of the state, but at least two — OR-7 and an un-collared female — have been photographed in the southern Cascade Range on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest east of Medford.

Biologists using padded leg-hold traps captured a yearling male wolf from the Imnaha pack outside Josephine on May 20 and fitted it with a GPS tracking collar, department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said. It was dubbed OR-25, as the 25th Oregon wolf to be fitted with a tracking collar since wolves reintroduced in Idaho began swimming the Snake River to Oregon in the 1990s.

A 100-pound male was captured May 25 in Umatilla County, she added. It was dubbed OR-26. It was not yet clear if that wolf was a member of a pack. Biologists were trying to fit more with tracking collars.

Most young dispersing wolves have gone east to Idaho, where they have the best chance of finding other wolves for mates, Dennehy said.

Those wolves also face a danger of being shot by hunters, because gray wolves are no longer protected by the federal Endangered Species Act in Idaho

But some go west. Besides OR-7 and the female with him, a wolf track was confirmed last winter on the flanks of Mount Hood.

Wolves are federally protected in western Oregon and by the Oregon Endangered Species Act in the rest of the state.

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