MEDFORD, Ore. — A gray wolf was spotted on camera earlier this month roughly 10 miles northwest of Medford in Southern Oregon.
Sam Dodenhoff, a wolf biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said a trail camera set up by Jacksonville, Ore., resident Eric Anderson captured several images of the animal on Jan. 3, roaming west of Highway 62 in the foothills of the Evans Creek Wildlife Management Unit.
It is the first confirmed report of a wolf in that area, Dodenhoff said, after years of unverified sightings.
“It’s just kind of an interesting set of photographs, and not an area where we’ve been able to document wolves in the past,” Dodenhoff said.
Little is known about the wolf at this time. Dodenhoff said the images, shot in daylight, clearly show it is an adult, though he cannot not tell whether it is male or female. The wolf also was not wearing a GPS collar, making it difficult to know whether it came from out of state or another pack.
“It’s possible that this animal was just moving through, and now it’s out of the area,” Dodenhoff said. “But of course, they’re wild animals, and you can’t write a script for them.”
The wolf was pictured on public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Anderson reported the images to ODFW on Jan. 20, and Dodenhoff said they were able to confirm it was, in fact, a wolf.
The area is also home to several hobby farms and small cattle operations, grazing in a mix of pine conifer forest and different types of terrain. Dodenoff said there is no evidence the wolf has harassed any livestock, or that it is part of a new pack.
Wolves are federally protected in Western Oregon, though Dodenhoff said producers can use non-lethal deterrents to protect their livestock, such as increasing human presence or installing motion sensor lights.
“At this time, we’re just kid of keeping our ear to the ground,” Dodenhoff said. “It wouldn’t be too concerning at this point.”
Jackson County is no stranger to wolves. Oregon’s famous wandering wolf, OR-7, dispersed from the Imnaha pack in northeast Oregon in 2011, traveling more than 1,000 miles before finding a mate.
The pair had pups in 2014, establishing the Rogue pack which, as of the end of 2018, now has at least six known individuals.