The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced an overwhelming amount of wolf depredations to livestock in the state in the last few weeks.
A total of six depredations from three separate packs were reported by the department, prompting ODFW to issue the lethal removal of wolves in two packs.
The Lookout Mountain Pack in Baker County was responsible for three incidents in September, resulting in the lethal removal of three wolves from the pack. Wolves have been present in the area for two years with little direct conflict. Producers started experiencing problems in February 2021, when wolves visited livestock calving pastures.
Ranchers took nonlethal measures to deter the wolves from the area. Despite nonlethal control measures, the Lookout Mountain Pack continued to depredate, resulting in nine incidents in two months. Due to this situation, ODFW issued permits for the lethal removal of uncollared wolves to four livestock producers, with an expiration date of Oct. 31.
On Sept. 17, ODFW stated it had lethally removed three wolves—an adult breeding male, a yearling male and a 5-month-old juvenile—located near a dead calf. ODFW reported seeing six remaining wolves during their flight operation. On Sept. 20, the department confirmed another depredation from the Lookout Mountain Pack, which occurred on an injured calf about three weeks earlier.
ODFW issued a lethal removal permit on Oct. 1 for wolves in the Ukiah Valley area in Umatilla County. According to ODFW, this area is in close proximity to the estimated boundary of the Fivemile Pack. The lethal removal permit was prompted by two separate depredations that resulted in the death of two calves.
On Sept. 25, a ranch hand found one dead and six injured calves in an approximately 200-acre pasture. Two of the injured calves were euthanized due to their injuries. At the time of the announcement, ODFW reported that no radio collar locations from the Ukiah Pack were in the area, and the Fivemile Pack might be using areas east of their estimated range.
A second depredation occurred on the same pasture on Sept. 28, resulting in the death of one calf. ODFW stated prior to the first depredation, the producer took measures to remove any attractants, such as dead animal carcasses, and monitored the health of the herd and removed any sick animals. The lethal removal permit expires on Oct. 31 and authorizes the producer to kill two wolves.
Sheep producers in Union County experienced two separate depredation incidents resulting in the loss of 12 ewes and injuries to two Kangal livestock dogs. On Sept. 29, an employee found three dead ewes and notified ODFW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which subsequently found four additional ewes.
On Oct. 1, USFWS found three more dead ewes and on Oct. 4 found one dead and one injured ewe, which was euthanized. Of the 12 ewes, three were partially scavenged. On Oct. 1, a producer reported hearing a fight between his guard dogs and an unknown predator. Both dogs were examined, and one had injuries on the throat and neck, and the other had bite marks on the legs. After an investigation, ODFW attributed the depredations to the Balloon Tree Pack in both incidents. The Balloon Tree Pack’s range is in the northeastern part of the state, east of Highway 244 and north of the town of Elgin. According to ODFW, the pack consists of a breeding pair that produced three pups in 2020. — Charles Wallace, WLJ editor