Did you know that gray wolves (Canis lupis) were once very common in Oregon? In fact, they occupied most of the state. However, due to an effort to eradicate the species in the 1940s, they became less common.
According to an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report in 2016, the number of wolves in Oregon grew by 36 percent, to 110 individuals. These numbers reflect wolves’ continued breeding success in the eight years since they re-established their home in Oregon, after virtually being wiped out in the mid-1900s.
Trouble for wolves began in the year Oregon became a state. In 1843, the first wolf bounty was established and Oregon’s first legislative session was called in part to address the “problem of marauding wolves.” By 1913, you could collect a $5 state bounty and an Oregon State Game Commission bounty of $20. The last recorded wolf bounty was paid out in 1947.
For over half a century there was an absence of wolves, until they began to take their first tentative steps toward recovery. Said to have dispersed from Idaho, the native species once again were becoming established in the Beaver State. One of the first sightings happened in 1999, when a lone wolf had been captured near the middle fork of the John Day River. The wolf was put in a crate, and was returned to Idaho by government wildlife agents. The next year, 2 wolves were said to be found dead. One of which was hit by a car, and the other illegally shot.
In this amazing video, a man by the name of Steve West and his crew on an Oregon ranch in Lagrande were surrounded by a pack of wolves while taking his 9 year old daughter on her first hunt.
A recent report from The Oregonian discusses how they have rebounded in Oregon, although they are being killed for attacking livestock.