SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A newly established pack of wolves in Oregon has something to howl about. At least four pups have been born to the pack in the western part of the state, where they are still listed as endangered.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that a photo from a trail camera confirmed the pups' existence. Their fur gray with cream-colored streaks, three of them were photographed walking on an unpaved road with a larger wolf, with the fourth pup on the other side of the road and further back.
The existence of the pack was officially confirmed only early this year, and then numbered three wolves.
The pups are growing fast. Officials with the federal and state wildlife departments placed a GPS collar on what is believed to be one of them, a 52-pound (23 kilogram), 5-month-old female, on Sept. 26 in the Umpqua National Forest. The collar's biodegradable foam spacer will continue to allow the collar to fit as the wolf grows into an adult.
"It's heartwarming to see photos of this wolf family running through the forests of western Oregon, but we've got to keep them protected," said Amaroq Weiss, senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed to take the wolf off the endangered species list. Wolves lost federal protection in eastern Oregon in 2011, though they still retain federal protection in the western two-thirds of the state
"If we want these wonderful animals to survive and flourish, we have to ensure the Trump administration doesn't take away their Endangered Species Act safeguards," Weiss said.
There are three packs in western Oregon. Most wolves in Oregon roam the eastern part of the state.
In April, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that Oregon was home to a record number of wolves, 20 years after the species returned to the state after being exterminated.
The number of known wolves in Oregon at the end of 2018 was 137, a 10% increase over the previous year.
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