Oregon state officials said Wednesday that the once-eradicated gray wolf is rebounding in the state, according to Reuters.
Having been driven out of the state in the early 20th century, wolves reentered Oregon in 2008. There are now at least 77 of them, according to state wildlife officials. The wolves are mostly clustered in remote sections of the state’s northeast corner, but they are increasing their range. This year, famous lone wolf OR-7 formed the first pack in the western part of the state.
Oregon wolves are still considered endangered, but their population increase will trigger a review of their protections under the Endangered Species Act. Ranchers are advocating for greater leeway to kill the wolves they feel threaten livestock.
Conservationists caution that the wolf population was still fragile. Steve Pedery, conservation director of wildlife advocacy organization Oregon Wild, said in a statement that the wolf population was growing slower than anticipated, and he warned against any change in the law. “You’ll struggle to find a credible scientist willing to say a couple dozen wolves in the northeast corner of the state is a real recovery,” he said.
For more on the debates around wolf reintroduction, see Elliott Wood’s feature from the February issue of Outside.