Reporter Simon Gutierrez
MOUNT HOOD, OR (KPTV) – For the first time in more than half a century, wolves are returning to stay in Mount Hood National Forest.
Wolves disappeared from Oregon in the mid-20th Century, when they were hunted, trapped, and poisoned to extinction in the region.
Although the animals were successfully re-introduced in Northeastern and Southern Oregon, they haven’t returned to live in the Mt. Hood National Forest until this past summer, when images of a potential mating pair were captured on motion sensor trail cameras.
“Now that we’ve got this group here, it’ll be kind of a toe-hold, particularly if they are successful at reproducing,” John Stephenson, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
Right now, Stephenson and biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are trying to determine the wolves’ home range.
“We’re talking about two known individuals in a vast landscape. I mean, it’s the ultimate game of hide and go seek right now in trying to find these two,” Jeremy Thompson, ODFW’s District Wildlife Biologist said.
The pair have been dubbed the “White River Wolves,” and biologists hope eventually to track them to their den, where they have a better chance of putting a radio collar on one of them.
The collar will allow them to track the wolves’ movements, and determine if their range is anywhere near livestock.
“Wolves are a hot-button political topic. And everybody’s pretty concerned about what that might look like to their operation,” Thompson said.
Stephenson, though, thinks the White River Wolves may have settled in an area where there won’t be much conflict with livestock.