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Wolves attack Oregon livestock
by Lee Juillerat, Herald and News 12/18/11
At least two cows were killed by Imnaha pack wolves last weekend in far eastern Oregon. OR-7, the wolf seen in recent months in the Klamath Basin, left the pack last September.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesmen said a yearling heifer was found dead on private land in Wallowa County and an adult cow was later found dead on the same property.The deaths bring the number of confirmed livestock losses by Imnaha pack wolves to 19 since spring 2010. The killings were the fifth and sixth confirmed livestock losses to wolves since an Oct. 5 court-ordered stay halted ODFW plans to kill two Imnaha pack wolves in an attempt to stop further livestock losses.
Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator, said the recent kills mark a “significant” change in the pack’s behavior. Previously, the pack killed mostly smaller calves but it has shifted to larger-sized yearling and adult cows.“The latest incident reaffirms that the pack is in a pattern of chronic depredation, wh ich we expect to continue,” Morgan said in a news release. “While we believe the appropriate response is lethal removal of these problem wolves under the chronic depredation rule. That option is off the table due to litigation.”
The wolves targeted the ranch twice over two days. The cattle involved had been gathered and placed into a holding pasture near the main ranch house because they were scheduled to be trucked to other pasture on Monday. Sunday morning, the landowner discovered the cattle had been run through the fence and the yearling heifer was found dead a half mile away. The cattle were returned to the pasture but were again scattered by Monday morning.GPS radio-collar data indicate the Imnaha’s alpha male was at the site of the depredation and also in the area when the cows were scattered the next day. Morgan said other wolves from the pack were likely with the alpha male, but said their VHF radio collars don’t allow such close tracking.
Morgan said the rancher had taken a variety of non-lethal measures on different areas of his ranch over the past two years, including installing barrier fences with fladry, flagged fencing that can deter wolves. He also has a radio-activated guard device that makes noise when a radio-collared wolf approaches, increased monitoring of his livestock and has a radio receiver that detects when a collared wolf is nearby.“This is a good example of a situation where the landowner had done everything right,” said Morgan. “I don’t think there are other measures that could have been reasonably taken in this case, so it is a very frustrating situation for livestock producers and wildlife managers.”
Besides non-lethal measures, ODFW also has provided some ranchers with permits to kill a wolf they catch “in the act of biting, wounding or killing” livestock or with permits that allow them to haze wolves. Use of the permits is rare because wolves typically avoid people and usually attack livestock at night. None of the permits has ever been used because it is rare for a person to actually be present when a wolf is “in the act” of attacking livestock.The Oregon Legislature and Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this year directed the Oregon Department of Agriculture to create a wolf compensation program that’s expected to be in effect in early 2012.
OR-7 newest Klamath resident
Wolf from Eastern Oregon pack settles in near Fort Klamath
OR-7, a wolf whose travels through Oregon have been drawing international media attention, has found a home, at least temporarily, in the Wood River Valley near Fort Klamath.
Since leaving his Wallowa County Imnaha pack in September, the 2 1/2-year-old wolf has traveled hundreds of miles, working his way south and west into Klamath County.
Since Nov. 7, based on readings from a global positioning device placed on his collar, OR-7 has mostly remained at various ends of the Wood River Valley, ranging from the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area and high on the slopes of Mount McLoughlin to Crater Lake National Park and the Mount Thielsen area.
“Basically, he’s not on the move anymore,” said Michelle Dennehy, wildlife communications coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
John Stephenson, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Oregon wolf coordinator, said OR-7 was still in the Wood River Valley as of Thursday, although he noted the wolf may cover many miles a day.
At least two people, including Liz Parrish, owner of Crystalwood Lodge on the west shores of Upper Klamath Lake north of Rocky Point, believe they have seen the wolf.
Stephenson said tracking efforts are aimed at trying to determine if the wolf is still alone or if he has found other wolves. He said wolves typically disperse from their packs to seek mates and new territory after age 2.
“We still don’t know for sure,” he said of whether OR-7 is traveling alone. “It’s really hard to say if the wolf will stay by itself or it will start wandering.”
Last week, Stephenson was in the Fort Klamath area tracking OR-7. During the search, he twice found sets of wolf tracks and located partially eaten remains of an elk calf. Elk, along with deer, are a primary food source for wolves, but they also can kill and eat cattle and other livestock, he said.
“We’d prefer they not be in the midst of a lot of livestock,” Stephenson said.
Dennehy noted state biologists attempt to contact ranchers if wolves are known or suspected in ranching areas.
“That’s one of our big concerns, if there’s livestock production in the area,” Dennehy said.
During sum mer months upward of 30,000 cattle typically graze in the Wood River Valley. They are trucked to lower elevations, mostly in far Northern California, each fall.
Wolf report incites mixed reactions
Some worry about effects on livestock
Some people are apprehensive. Others aren’t sure what to think. And still others are excited.
Reports that a lone wolf has been in remote areas of Klamath County since late October and early November have resulted in a mix of emotions.Some Fort Klamath-area ranchers like Ambrose McAuliffe and Bill Nicholson are concerned about possible livestock depredation while others, like Liz Parrish, are excited.
Parrish, owner of Crystalwood Lodge, is one of the few who has seen the wolf, known as OR-7.“It was pretty cool,” Parrish said, explaining she saw the wolf while driving from the lodge toward Westside Road in late October, days after it was reported in Klamath County. “He just stood there and stared at me. We took a long look at each other. He melted back into the trees.”
Parrish, who saw many wolves while living in northern Minnesota, believes OR-7 was curious to see her dogs. At her resort, Parrish raises and trains sled dogs for racing.“I enjoy having a wolf in the area. It makes it a little more wild,” she said. “Personally, I don’t think there a lot of justification for being terrified.”
Parrish, however, believes if wolves kill livestock, ranchers should be compensated.“I’m hoping he keeps his taste for elk and not for beef,” she said.
McAuliffe, a semiretired Fort Klamath cattle rancher, worries that protecting wolves “is one more nail in the coffin” for ranchers.“They’ll get rid of us one way or another. Nobody’s real happy about it,” he said of the wolf. “It’s a sign of the times. It’s pretty much indicative of how the bureaucracy views the private sector. We’re dispensable.”
Nicholson, another semi-retired Fort Klamath rancher, is wary.
“I don’t think one wolf is a problem, but if we’re going to get a pack of wolves it’s a real concern,” he said, noting the Wood River Valley has 30,000 grazing cattle during the summer. “It’d be quite a meal ticket.”Nicholson said he’s been interested in watching the movements of OR-7, which are charted on an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
“I’m not anti-wildlife,” he said, adding, “If they do congregate, what’s it going to do to the elk and deer?”
Page Updated: Monday December 19, 2011 03:28 AM Pacific
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