Thursday, January 22, 2015

Phillip Elden Answers Questions about Oregon’s Famous ‘Rogue Pack’

Phillip Elden is the co-founder and Conservation Director of Native Oregon, a conservation group committed to protecting Oregon’s forests and native wildlife.

Q:  Who is OR-7 and why is he so famous?

Phillip Elden:  OR-7 was the seventh gray wolf to be radio collared by researchers in an effort to help the Endangered Species Act protect Oregon’s gray wolves. OR-7 left his pack in northeastern Oregon in September 2011 and was tracked, through a dedicated Twitter account, as he searched for a mate. People were captivated by the wolf’s journey.

Q:  Where did OR-7’s journey take him?

Phillip Elden:  OR-7’s search took him thousands of miles across Oregon and back and forth into Northern California before he finally found his mate. OR-7 ultimately settled in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and became the leader of his own pack.

Q:  What designates a pack and why does it matter that OR-7 has formed a pack?

Phillip Elden:  Two or more pups in a litter must survive through the end of the year to qualify as a pack, and the Rogue Pack qualified. That conceivably made OR-7 and his mate the first “breeding pair” east of the Cascade. Breeding pairs such as OR-7 and his mate are used by state wildlife officials to track the progress of efforts to reintroduce gray wolves into the state’s wolf population.

Q:  Why do they call it a Rogue Pack?

Phillip Elden:  OR-7, his mate, and their pups were named the “Rogue Pack” by wildlife officials based on their location—not their temperament.

Q:  What does that mean for the gray wolf’s endangered species designation?

Phillip Elden:  If biologists verify that at least four packs birthed pups that lived to the end of the calendar year, Oregon could consider lifting state regulations on gray wolves this year. Delisting would not mean an end to protections for wolves, but would give ranchers more options for dealing with wolves that attack livestock.