For the first time since 1947, there was a wolf confirmed on Mount Hood.
That detail comes from a just-released report by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which includes a single line about the tracks of a lone wolf found in the "White River Unit" back in December.
The White River Unit is located south of Hood River, in the eastern foothills of Mount Hood. Russ Morgan, who runs Oregon's wolf program, confirms that wolf tracks were found in the snow in December, though he notes the wolf may have simply been passing through.
Still, this is an exciting moment for wolf appreciators, including Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild. Back in January, WW talked to Klavins about the possibility of wolves coming back to the 503 area code—important because the apex predators, once aggressively hunted in Oregon, benefit the entire ecosystem.
Our final question to Klavins at the time: "In another decade could we go out to Timberline and hear the howl of a wolf?"
"There's a good chance," he said. "One thing they do regularly is surprise us. [In 1998, a] wolf swam down the Snake River, shook itself dry and came over to Oregon, and three years later we had one on the west side of the state. The trick is that there is a gap in good wolf habitat between where they currently live in Oregon and the Cascades. So it's going to take a few brave, wandering wolves from elsewhere to cross and then find each other."
Well, surprise: One brave, wandering wolf had already proven him right.
"Wolf recovery is really a story of redemption," Klavins says. "This is history. This is only the second wolf in the Cascades since the last bounty was collected in 1947."
More information on why wolves are awesome comes from the video below and from research done at Oregon State University.