This week Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife re-collared the alpha male of the Imaha pack in northeast Oregon. Today I heard that the wolf, known as OR-4, is the biggest wolf ODFW has documented in Oregon to date (more on that below).
The collar on OR-4 was the primary means of tracking the wolf and alerting ranchers to potential conflicts with their livestock. It stopped working in the middle of controversy over whether the state should kill the wolf and some of its family members to protect livestock in Wallowa County. The Imnaha pack has been linked to 20 livestock deaths over the past two years.
State officials were sending ranchers regular text messages about the wolf’s whereabouts, but today ODFW announced the text messaging that kept ranchers clued into the wolf’s whereabouts are on hiatus while the state builds a less labor-intensive automated system. In the meantime, ODFW officials say they will use a simpler notification system.
“We were sending messages seven days a week, 365 days a year at 5 am and 5 pm,” said ODFW spokesman Rick Hargrave. “It just wasn’t sustainable.”
The EO reported some details about the state’s plans to revamp the texting program:
“Wildlife division administrator Ron Anglin said Thursday the department in the past year spent 800 hours preparing and sending 5,000 text messages. He said the failure in January of the alpha male’s second GPS collar, which provides location data, presented a chance to rethink the project. He said the department is configuring a computer program to automatically download the GPS data, format it and post it on the Internet.”
Meanwhile, Oregon Wild has weighed in on the size of Oregon’s wolves. The wolf advocates were worried about exaggerated claims of the reintroduced Canadian wolves in the U.S. being larger and posing a bigger threat to people, said wildlife advocate Rob Klavins.
Making matters worse, he said, is Liam Neeson’s new movie The Gray, which casts wolves as dangerous villains.
“There are lots of people believing in the big, bad wolf now,” Klavins said.
He collected weight data from ODFW to put the size of Oregon’s wolves into perspective.
The heaviest wolf the state has captured and weighed to date is, indeed, OR-4 (pictured above) at 110-115 pounds, according to ODFW. Klavins collected weight data from ODFW on the six adult wolves they’ve weighed and found they range from 74 to 115 pounds – an average of 92 pounds. By comparison, according to the American Kennel Club, a Bullmastiff weighs 100 to 150 pounds.
So, that might help to address the “big.” The “bad” is another story.