The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed reports this week that they have lost the alpha male from the only confirmed pair of breeding wolves in the state. According to ODFW wolf coordinator Russ Morgan, the wolf has been missing for over three weeks. While it is not uncommon for an animal’s GPS tracking collar to fall off or fail, there is also the possibility that the wolf is dead.
Wolves are listed as endangered species in Oregon and protected by the state Endangered Species Act. According to the ODFW’s Oregon Wolf Plan, the state needs four established breeding pairs before the animals can be de-listed as an endangered species. With the alpha male of the only confirmed breeding pair now lost, the situation looks grim for these noble beasts.
Hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts should keep an eye out for wolves this season. While a wolf encounter is rare, they do occur and should be handled appropriately. Here are a few ways to tell a wolf apart from a coyote:
Size: Wolves are much larger than coyotes. While a large coyote may weigh up to 30 pounds, a full-grown wolf can grow as large as 100 pounds.
Features: Coyotes have long, pointed features – ears, snout, etc. Wolves have large, blocky snouts and short, rounded ears.
Check out the ODFW’s handy Wolf Management Flyer for more information on the animals, how to spot them and what to do if you encounter one.