Hot on the heels of the news that Washington is once again home to wolves, the Oregonian today reports that biologists have confirmed wolf packs in Oregon.

…Oregon’s first reproducing pack of wild wolves since the predators were exterminated from the state decades ago.

State biologist Russ Morgan and another biologist heard the howls of at least two adult wolves and two pups in the predawn hours Friday in northern Union County, north of La Grande, Morgan said Monday. The biologists themselves were howling under a bright moon, trying to produce an audible response from wolves. That’s a common method of surveying for the animals.

For a while we’ve known that individual wolves have made their way back into Oregon, but now this is sign of an actual resident population. There’s every reason to believe that wolves will flourish here:

The biologists heard the Oregon wolf pack on the edge of the 177,000-acre Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, part of the Umatilla National Forest. It is rugged, remote and thickly forested, with plenty of potential prey for the wolves, Morgan said.

This is great news for Washington too because the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness overlaps state boundaries in the sparsely populated corners of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon (in fact, about two-thirds of that protected wilderness is in Washington). If you haven’t spent any time in northeast Oregon, it’s difficult to convey how rugged and wild it is. There’s the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (with its Eagle Cap Wilderness), the Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area (with its Hell’s Canyon Wilderness), and many, many miles of scrub and rangeland.