ENTERPRISE, Ore. -- Oregon wildlife biologists put GPS collar on a wolf pack's alpha male last week in northeastern Oregon to help state wildlife managers better track and understand the pack’s movements.
On Friday, Feb. 12, a 115-pound wolf believed to be the alpha male of one of only two known wolf packs in Oregon was fitted with a GPS collar, which allows the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to collect data on the wolf's location multiple times each day.
A 97-pound male was fitted with a radio collar during the same operation, and a 70-pound female pup was radio-collared on Saturday, Feb. 13.
“The wolves were in good body condition and the capture went well,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW's wolf coordinator.
The wolves are part of the pack featured in a video taken Nov. 12, 2009 east of Joseph, Ore.
Morgan believes this pack consists of 10 wolves, five of those pups.
Back in January 2008, the alpha female of this pack, B-300, was confirmed to be the first wolf to enter Oregon from Idaho since the early 2000s. She was captured and re-fitted with a working radio collar in July of last year, which helped ODFW find the three newly-collared members of the pack.
While the size of wolf packs can vary, breeding usually occurs only between the dominant or “alpha” male and female of the pack, ODFW said.
In addition to the Imnaha pack, ODFW continues to track a wolf pack in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit, also in Wallowa County in Oregon's northeastern corner.
None of these wolves have been collared yet, but wildlife managers have repeatedly found tracks and scat from these animals. They estimate there are four wolves in this pack.
The Imnaha and Wenaha packs are the only known wolf packs in Oregon, though ODFW continues to find evidence of individual wolves dispersing through the state.
Wolves in Oregon are protected by the state Endangered Species Act (ESA). West of Highways 395, 78 and 95, wolves are also protected by the federal ESA., according to ODFW.
For more information on Oregon's wolf management plan, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/