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OR: ODFW investigating Wallowa County wolf death

The body of wolf OR-42 was found in early May but the death wasn’t made public until May 23.

Eric Mortenson
Capital Press

Wildlife officials are investigating the death of a wolf in Wallowa County, in Northeast Oregon.

The body of OR-42, believed to be the breeding female of the Chesnimnus Pack, was recovered May 8, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy. The finding was not announced until May 23. The wolf was wearing a VHF tracking collar; ODFW went looking for it after receiving a “mortality signal” from the device, Dennehy said.

A forensic examination did not pinpoint a cause of death, but ODFW said foul play, such as poaching, is not suspected “at this time.”

The case remains under investigation, however, and additional lab tests are being conducted by Oregon State University.

The Chesnimnus Pack has two subadult wolves that are wearing ODFW tracking collars.

The department uses GPS collars on some wolves. The collars collect a lot of information and signal a wolf’s exact location, but have a high failure rate and a three-year battery life, according to ODFW. The average life span of GPS collars used by ODFW since 2011 has been 18 months, the department said. Signals from VHF radio collars must be monitored in the field, which is often done from the air, Batteries in VHF collars are expected to last six and a half years.