ENTERPRISE, Ore – The killing spree of wolves in Wallowa County sees no end. US Wildlife Services has confirmed that calf number nine was killed by wolves. Rancher Eric Smith who grazes his cattle at Thomason Meadow located in the Zumwalt area is the latest victim to wolf depredation. The calf was found dead yesterday, June 3, 2010.
Just one day earlier Rancher Scott Shear became victim number eight when he lost one of his calves to wolves while grazing his herd at Day Ridge, located NW of Enterprise, Oregon.
ODFW has not yet issued any official statements neither confirming or denying either killing yet. In less then three weeks, US Wildlife Services has confirmed nine kills of calves by wolves.
Shear who has been living with wolves in his backyard for quite a while had one of his calves attacked by wolves close to his home over Memorial Day weekend. That calf survived and was examined by Marlin Riggs, US Wildlife Services, and Pat Mathews, ODFW, who identified the bite marks and scratches as injuries caused by a wolf.
Two other calves had been confirmed killed by US Wildlife Services and ODFW over Memorial Day weekend in Wallowa County. Ranchers Don Hough and Dick Tienhaara fell victim to the wolf pack that has been killing calves throughout the last three weeks on a regular basis in Wallowa County. Hough’s calf was killed on private property not too far away from his homestead. Tienhaara’s calf was killed less than 1/4 mile from the family home.
ODFW has authorized USDA Wildlife Services to kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack, which are responsible for five confirmed livestock losses in the past few weeks by ODFW, eight confirmed by USDA Wildlife Services.
Wildlife Services has been authorized to kill only two uncollared wolves. This selective removal is meant to protect the alpha male and alpha female. Protecting the collared wolves will also help ODFW, USDA Wildlife Services and ranchers continue to monitor wolf activity. (The alpha female was collared in July 2009 and the alpha male was collared in February 2010.) According to a report by KTVL Conservation groups objected to the permits, saying not enough has been done with non-lethal means yet to justify this step.
The lethal action is aimed at killing wolves that are showing an interest in killing livestock, not wolves simply in the area, and will be limited to an area where three of the confirmed livestock kills are clustered. Under the terms of the authorization, the wolves can be killed a) only within three miles of three clustered locations with confirmed livestock losses by wolves and b) only on privately-owned pasture currently inhabited by livestock. ODFW’s authorization will be valid until June 11, 2010.
The authorization for lethal removal is consistent with the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and associated Oregon Administrative Rules, which guide ODFW responses to livestock losses by wolves. After non-lethal measures have been used and there are two or more losses on adjacent properties, the department may authorize its own personnel or Wildlife Services to kill wolves.
The non-lethal measures tried include removal of livestock carcasses and bone piles that can attract wolves; radio telemetry monitoring of wolves; use of radio activated guard box; aerial hazing of wolves; the hiring of a wolf technician to haze wolves and monitor wolf activity nightly; and increased presence around livestock.
ODFW has also issued two additional “caught in the act” permits to the landowners with losses confirmed on Saturday, May 29. The permits give landowners the legal authority to shoot wolves “caught in the act” of biting, wounding or killing livestock. Last week, ODFW issued five of these permits.
The Wolf Plan, first adopted in 2005, is currently undergoing a five-year review. Ranchers, conservationists and others with comments about the process for responding to livestock losses or other issues may provide public comment.