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Sep-05-2009 14:30printcomments

Oregon Wildlife Officials Kill Two Wolves Tied to Chronic Livestock Losses

A rancher was given a permit to kill the wolves if they attack his livestock again.

Wolves caught in the act
Wolves caught in the act.
Photo: ODFW

(BAKER CITY, Ore.) - Two problem wolves involved in five separate incidents of livestock depredation in the Keating Valley area were killed in Baker County this morning by USDA Wildlife Services. ODFW authorized Wildlife Services to kill the wolves on Saturday, Aug. 29 after both agencies investigated and confirmed the last two depredation incidents at a private ranch in the Keating Valley area of Baker County.

The first incident occurred the evening of April 9, 2009 and the last occurred the evening of Aug. 27, 2009 on the same ranch. ODFW and Wildlife Services documented the loss of 29 domestic animals in the five separate incidents, all of which occurred on private property. Four of the five incidents occurred on one ranch and the fifth occurred at an adjacent ranch.

Evidence including bite marks and other wounds on the livestock, track sizes, the wolves’ historic use of the area and the style of the depredation itself confirmed that the same two wolves were involved in all of the livestock losses.

After the first incident, ODFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Defenders of Wildlife and the landowners worked together to try non-lethal measures to keep the wolves from killing livestock again. Those measures included radio-collaring one of the wolves so they could be monitored, installing fladry (flagged fencing that can be a wolf deterrent), using a radio-activated-guard box that makes noise when a radio collar approaches, double-penning livestock, keeping livestock near homes at night, burying carcass piles and using guard dogs.

ODFW hazed the wolves out of the Keating Valley area multiple times with an airplane or helicopter and also used cracker shells (noise making devices) to discourage them from remaining in the Keating Valley area around livestock operations.

“Under Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan our first response to wolf-livestock conflict is to use non-lethal measures to deter the wolves,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “If non-lethal efforts are ineffective, then lethal measures are taken. It’s unfortunate that we got to this step but these wolves continued to kill livestock despite our many efforts to keep them out of trouble. We cannot allow chronic losses to continue.”

Wolves in Oregon are protected and listed under the state’s Endangered Species Act. Wolves are also protected by the federal Endangered Species Act west of highways 395/78/95.

The state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan provides livestock producers and wildlife managers with specific tools to manage any wolf depredation. Ranchers may not shoot a wolf without a permit, even when it is in the act of attacking their livestock. The rancher that experienced four out of the five depredations had tried non-lethal measures to deter the wolves and ODFW and Wildlife Services had documented his continued losses. Because of this, he was given a permit to kill the wolves should they return to his ranch and be caught attacking his livestock again.

The two wolves that were killed were yearling animals and never bred. Their genetics link them to Idaho wolves, but it is not clear if they were born in Oregon or dispersed to Oregon from Idaho. For unknown reasons, the wolves were on their own at a young age, which could have contributed to their inability to survive on wild animals rather than livestock.

ODFW is currently monitoring two wolf packs in Wallowa County. In July, two pups were observed with one of the packs, marking the second confirmed instance of wolf reproduction in Oregon. Besides these two packs, other wolves continue to disperse into Oregon from Idaho.

For more information on wolves in Oregon, visit ODFW’s wolf Web page.

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CeAnn September 6, 2009 12:07 pm (Pacific time)

Like we the public are stupid enough to believe Wildlife Services.

Sharla Stone September 5, 2009 4:36 pm (Pacific time)

This was a tragic and irresponsible act. These wolves were capable of surviving on wildlife. They did for months after ranchers began ethical means of deterring them. What happened? The photos taken show them with already dead animals, not in the process of a kill. There is no proof they killed rather than found them. The wolf population in Oregon is to new, and to small to survive the homicidal tendencies of humans. Isn't it strange, when people are involved the courts seem to think there is a better answer than kill whatever is aggravating you. When voiceless animals are involved they choose turn to a bullet.

Sharla Stone September 5, 2009 4:26 pm (Pacific time)

Protected under the state endangered species act? If this is protection, want would it take to qualify as violence? This is a sad and sickening example of human ignorance and greed. These wolves were able to survive on wild animals. When measures were taken by ranchers to deter them, there were no more livestock kills for several months. There is no proof they made a sudden and unprovoked change killing these animals. Photos were taken of them with already dead carcases, not in the process of a kill.

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