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First howl: Gray wolf pup of the Wenaha pack, Wallowa County. (Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Though only 81 gray wolves (81!) are known to live wild in the entire state, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff has recommended removing the animals from the state Endangered Species list.

Among the criteria for this recommendation: “Species [is] not now in danger of extinction in any significant portion of its range.” I’m not a biologist, but a population of 81 animals strikes me as a precariously puny hedge against extinction.

The wildlife commission meets November 9 in Salem, Oregon, to consider the proposal to hear public comments; written comments will be accepted beforehand.

As for California's gray wolf population: It recently got a boost when new pups were born in Siskiyou County—check out these photos of the Shasta Pack, captured by unmanned trail cameras. As California residents, these animals are listed under California's Endangered Species Act..

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