Jul 31

ID: Wolf Control Mulled in Hailey Ranch Purchase


HAILEY • Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers and Blaine County officials are mulling over how to deal with conflicts between wolves and livestock on a 16-square-mile property set aside for conservation.

Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said the county’s request to make non-lethal predator control measures a last resort on the 10,394-acre Rock Creek Ranch was a “deal-breaker.”

Blaine County Commission Chairman Larry Schoen said the county wants lethal control measures — often used when wolves kill grazing sheep or livestock — only to be used when required non-lethal deterrents fail. Schoen said the county is trumpeting the idea — which would be a first on similar Fish and Game-managed properties — to set a statewide example for best grazing management practices.

The two agencies are in negotiations to split the cost of buying the ranch — once appraised at more than $13.4 million — from the Wood River Land Trust for $2.2 million to turn it into a Fish and Game-managed Wildlife Management Area. The ranch stretches along a dirt road that begins at Croy Canyon Road, west of Hailey, and ends at U.S. 20.

The Rinker family recently donated more than $7.4 million in land value by selling the ranch to the Land Trust in a deal aided by The Nature Conservancy. After negotiations with Blaine County finish, Fish and Game would hold the title to the land and bear the costs of managing it.

The land has 10,000 acres of grazing allotments, 31 cubic-feet-per-second of water rights, 24 miles of fishable streams and 89 miles of riparian habitat. It is home to sage grouse, pygmy rabbits and serves as wintering and transition range for deer, elk and antelope.

Before selling the property, the Rinker family created a $3.8 million Natural Resources Conservation Service Grassland Reserve Program easement over the land.

“That has these specific requirements, such as no developments, requirement of grazing, wildlife habitat is predominant in terms of management and other such conditions related to motorized access,” said Gregg Servheen, Fish and Game wildlife program coordinator.

The ranch has more than 10,000 acres of forage, Servheen said, and cattle are grazing there. Schoen said the county wants to see grazing continue there.

At a mid-July meeting, where the Fish and Game Commission approved releasing its $1.1 million obligation, Moore stressed that the commission isn’t tied to financing the property with Blaine County.

Should the county not budge on its requests, Moore said Fish and Game could call off the deal or find a new purchase partner. The department would “in no way ever require the permitted lessee for grazing to be mandated on any form of protecting their property relative to predation,” he said.

“We know those are unacceptable conditions and there is no reason for you (the commission) to ever consider them and wait on them (Blaine County officials),” Moore said.

Since then, Servheen said the two sides have been successfully negotiating to find a middle ground. Schoen agreed, saying he was sure the two would come to an agreement soon.

Fish and Game is more agreeable, Servheen said, to encouraging non-lethal deterrents as part of the purchase and requiring those methods under the grazing permitting process it would gain control of after the sale. Fish and Game managers want flexibility, and writing non-lethal measures into a purchase agreement, as requested, would be too restrictive, he said.

Magic Valley Commissioner Mark Doerr said at the mid-July meeting in Salmon, “As a commission, we don’t want to tie our hands on the management of a piece of property to language that we don’t use anywhere else in Idaho and — only because it is in Blaine County — make it exclusive.”

When asked why the county should be treated differently, Schoen said, “The answer is really simple — Blaine County citizens are chipping in $1.1 million for the creation of this wildlife management area.”

That money would come from a 2008 Blaine County voter-approved $3.2 million land, water and wildlife conservation levy, Schoen said. Those funds are overseen by a levy board, which forwarded its requests to Fish and Game.

“The levy board wants to see all wildlife valued and wants to see deterrents as best practice on the property with that kind of investment,” Schoen said. “It is not policy in Idaho today, and I have been very involved at the state level trying to see deterrents incorporated into state policy.”

Across the state last year, wolves killed a record number of livestock — 39 cattle and 404 sheep. In Fish and Game’s Southern Mountain area, which includes the Wood River Valley and parts of Blaine County, wolves killed 23 cattle and 146 sheep.

Schoen used Defenders of Wildlife’s Wood River Wolf project as an example that wolf deterrents work in the wolf-heavy area. The project helps fund deterrents if requested by ranchers and is currently focused on sheep grazing allotments north of Ketchum.

From 2010 through mid-2014, Defenders spent $230,000 on the project, which protected between 10,000 and 27,000 sheep annually grazing in the Sawtooth National Forest while losing only 25 sheep in the past six years, said Defenders’ Suzanne Stone.

“Just like with other agricultural practices, they start with a new idea and people learn how to use them effectively and they eventually become adopted as a best management practice,” Schoen said.


Jul 30

ID: 3 wolves killed in Sawtooth Valley

Animals deemed responsible for calf kills

Express Staff Writer

Three wolves were killed this month by a government trapper due to a depredation incident on a ranch in the Sawtooth Valley, and trapping may continue as the result of additional incidents that have occurred since then.

Todd Grimm, Idaho director for Wildlife Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said wolves killed a calf on a ranch near Fisher Creek on June 29, and the wolves were killed between July 1 and July 11. He said the first and third wolves killed were caught in traps and the second was shot.

Grimm said the traps were removed Friday for the time being, but may be replaced due to two additional depredation incidents on two other nearby ranches that occurred on July 18 and July 23.

“There’s still an open control action,” he said.

Two of the wolves killed were wearing radio collars installed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Jason Husseman, the department’s Salmon Region biologist, said the department had requested that those wolves be released, and department spokesman Mike Keckler said the department’s general policy is “to keep as many collars out there as possible.”

However, Grimm said the wolves killed near Fisher Creek were deemed too great a threat to livestock to be allowed to go free.

“The traps were set near the depredation sites,” he said. “The wolves were returning to the sites when they were killed.”

Grimm acknowledged that the two wolves were probably too badly injured by the traps to have survived if they had been released. He said Wildlife Services trappers generally check their traps every day, partly to reduce the chance of anyone tampering with them, but acknowledged that there’s always a chance that an animal caught in a foothold trap will sustain serious injuries shortly after it’s caught.

Grimm said the agency always puts up warning signs for hikers and pet owners in areas where trapping is being conducted stating that animal capture devices are in the vicinity.

“We put signs up at all access points,” he said. “If someone goes down a path that’s going to allow them to interact with our traps, they’re going to be warned beforehand.”

Grimm said suspected wolf attacks are confirmed by a necropsy focused on evidence of subcutaneous hemorrhaging and canine-tooth bite marks. He said the existence of hemorrhaging indicates that an animal was killed while it was still alive, rather than scavenged upon. He said the tooth marks of bears and mountain lions have about the same spacing as those of wolves, but bear and lion attacks usually leave claw marks and evidence of damage to different parts of the body.

Grimm said that since wolves were reintroduced into Idaho in 1995, there have been 1,717 incidents of depredation on livestock and domestic animals reported statewide by 318 livestock producers. He said Wildlife Services has confirmed 1,100 of those cases, which involved 2,700 sheep, 538 calves, 86 adult cattle, 70 dogs and eight horses or mules.

He said that since wolves were removed from the endangered species list in May 2011, 325 confirmed depredation incidents have been blamed on wolves, 34 on mountain lions and 20 on bears.

Local pro-wolf activists have advocated that Sawtooth Valley ranchers undertake non-lethal deterrents to better protect their livestock from wolf attacks. Various methods have been used successfully to guard sheep in the Wood River Valley, though ranchers say the more widely dispersed cattle are more difficult to protect.


Jul 29

OR: Workshop on non-lethal wolf management

The East Oregonian

PENDLETON — Local ranchers are invited to learn more about non-lethal wolf management techniques and research at a workshop scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 21, at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton.

The workshop — coordinated by Oregon State University Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — will cover topics including the science and practical applications of non-lethal wolf deterrents to protect livestock.

Presenters with APHIS Wildlife Services will provide an overview of their research into larger, more assertive breeds of guard dogs and their effectiveness warding off predators such as wolves and bears. This project was recently expanded to include three sheep operations in Umatilla County.

Other sessions will focus on wolf damage identification, and the role of county wolf depredation advisory committees in assisting producers with compensation for losses caused by confirmed wolf attacks. Those funds are administered by the Oregon Department of Agriculture through the state Wolf Depredation and Compensation Financial Assistance County Block Grant Program.

The workshop will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room 200. Space is limited to the first 100 people who register, with a $10 registration fee paid at the door. Lunch will be provided.

For more information or to register, call OSU Extension Service at 541-278-5403.


Jul 29

ID: Idaho Suspends Wilderness Wolf-killing Plan in Face of Court Challenge

POCATELLO, Idaho— Faced with a legal challenge by conservationists and an imminent hearing before a federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has abandoned its plan to resume a professional wolf-killing program in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the coming winter.

In a sworn statement submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on July 24, 2014, IDFG Wildlife Bureau Chief Jeff Gould stated that IDFG “will not conduct any agency control actions for wolves within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness before November 1, 2015.” IDFG had previously advised the court that the program could resume as early as Dec. 1, 2014.

A professional hunter-trapper hired by IDFG killed nine wolves in the Frank Church Wilderness last winter, and state officials in February announced plans to kill 60 percent of the wolves in the Middle Fork section of the wilderness over a period of several years in an effort to inflate wilderness elk populations for the benefit of commercial outfitters and recreational hunters.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this September, we are relieved that the Frank Church Wilderness will be managed as a wild place, rather than an elk farm, for at least the coming year,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso, who is representing conservationists challenging the wilderness wolf-killing program. “Now we must make sure that wilderness values prevail for the long term.”

Earthjustice is representing long-time Idaho conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan along with four conservation groups — Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity — in the lawsuit challenging the wolf-killing program. The conservationists argue that the U.S. Forest Service, which is charged by Congress with managing and protecting the Frank Church Wilderness, violated the Wilderness Act and other laws by allowing and assisting the state wolf-killing program in the largest forest wilderness in the lower-48 states.

In a separate sworn statement filed with the 9th Circuit on July 24, the Forest Service committed to providing the conservationists with notice by Aug. 5, 2015 of any plans by IDFG to resume professional wolf-killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the 2015-16 winter, as well as “a final determination by the Forest Service as to whether it concurs with or objects to such plans.”

“IDFG’s announcement now gives the Forest Service the chance to play out its mission — its obligation to protect our irreplaceable Frank Church Wilderness for the American people and for all its wildlife against an effort to turn it into a mere elk farming operation on infertile soil,” said Maughan, a retired Idaho State University professor who was a member of the citizens’ group that drew up the boundaries of the Frank Church Wilderness 35 years ago.

“We are pleased to see this truce in Idaho’s wolf reduction efforts in the Frank Church for a full year,” said Suzanne Stone, Defenders’ regional representative who has worked nearly three decades to restore wolves in Idaho. “The Frank Church is both the largest forested wilderness area and a core habitat for gray wolves in the western United States. Wolves belong here as they have made the ‘Frank’ truly wild again. Ensuring healthy wolf populations here is critical for the recovery of wolves throughout the entire northwestern region.”

“It is hard to imagine a decision more inconsistent with wilderness protection than to allow the hired killing of wolves,” added Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Today, some relief for wild places flows from the news that IDFG will not continue that odious operation this year. Next we will see whether the Forest Service will take action to protect the Frank Church Wilderness from such atrocities in the future.”

“It’s time for the Forest Service to stand with the vast majority of the American people by taking the necessary steps to protect wolves in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness for the long term, not just the next 15 months,” stated George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “Wolves are the epitome of wildness. Their protection is key to preserving the area’s wilderness character.”

“We’re glad Idaho’s wolves are rightly getting a reprieve from the state’s ill-conceived predator-killing plan, at least for a year,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re also happy to see the Forest Service agree to be more transparent about any future decision to allow Idaho to kill wolves in the Frank Church.”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had scheduled an Aug. 25, 2014 court hearing to address the conservationists’ request for an injunction to prevent IDFG from resuming its program of professional wolf killing in the Frank Church Wilderness during the coming winter. IDFG commenced the program in December 2013 without public notice but abruptly suspended the program on Jan. 28, 2014 amidst emergency injunction proceedings before the 9th Circuit. Since then, the conservationists have continued to press their case for an injunction before the 9th Circuit, which led to the scheduled Aug. 25 court hearing.

Because IDFG has abandoned the 2014-15 professional wolf-killing program in the wilderness, the conservationists have agreed to forego the scheduled court hearing, but they renewed their call for the Forest Service to fulfill its legal duty to protect the Frank Church Wilderness.


Jul 24

OR: Oregon’s wolf OR-7: Fresh photos confirm pack has at least 3 pups

Lynne Terry

Fresh photos snapped in the wilds of southern Oregon confirm that the state’s famous wandering wolf, OR-7, has at least three mouths to feed.

The images show two gray pups in about the same area where last month John Stephenson, a wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, captured pictures of a black pup. Stephenson, who’s been monitoring feeds from OR-7′s radio collar, suspects the litter is even bigger. They usually range from four to six pups.

But getting a family portrait is tough. The cameras, located in a remote area of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, are stationary and can only capture what runs in front of them.

“We were hoping they would lead the pups out in front of the camera and we’d get a nice shot,” Stephenson said. “But they didn’t pose for us.”

Biologists have a keen interest in OR-7′s pack. Born in the Imnaha pack in northeast Oregon, he spent three years searching for a mate in a journey that took him to California. The birth of the pups mark the first known wolf reproduction in the Oregon Cascades since the 1940s.

OR-7′s mate, a small black female, was captured in the recent photos with a small white object in her mouth that looks as if she’s bringing a sandwich home to the kids. Stephenson said it’s most likely a bone, which wolves like to gnaw on, just like dogs.

When he retrieved the photos last Thursday, Stephenson didn’t see any wolves. He said the pack had moved on. But he said the images indicate the pups are thriving.

“They have these huge feet on little bodies, just like a dog,” Stephenson said. “They’ll grow into them as they get bigger.”

The pups were born in April and now weigh about 30 pounds, Stephenson said. They’re increasingly mobile. So is OR-7, judging from his radio collar.

The collar is only sending feeds every four or five days. It could be near the end of its life or it could be that OR-7 is frequenting areas that are too remote to be picked up by satellite, Stephenson said.

Biologists plan to try to recollar him or his mate in late summer or early fall. They want to wait until the pups are bigger and the family is stabilized.

“This is a demanding time for the adults,” Stephenson said. “They have to keep finding food for the pups.”


Jul 24

OR: New photos show wolf OR-7′s new pups and mate

Zach Urness, Statesman Journal

The pictures, taken July 12, not only show two pups, but also reveal OR-7′s mate for the first time.

OR-7 was born into northeast Oregon’s Imnaha wolf pack in April 2009 and collared by ODFW on Feb. 25, 2011.

He left the pack in September 2011 and began a rambling journey from Oregon into northern California and back, covering over 3,000 miles in search of a mate.

His quest was successful. In May, biologists announced OR-7 had found a mate. Just a few months later, in June, ODFW announced the arrival of pups.

“This is very exciting news,” said Paul Henson in June, state supervisor of the Oregon U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.”

Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the state Endangered Species Act. However, in 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service recommended removing protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states.

In a statement, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said he opposed the delisting.

“The critical federal protections that have allowed OR-7 to start his new pack are in jeopardy,” DeFazio said in a statement. “As we celebrate OR-7 and his new family, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is threatening to disregard science and take the gray wolf off the Endangered Species list.

“If the service delists the gray wolf, states could declare open season on gray wolves like OR-7, his mate, and these new pups. For over a year, I have fought to keep these critical federal protections for gray wolves and will continue to do so until Fish and Wildlife Service makes their final decision later this year.”


Jul 23

MT: Wolf trapping class set for Aug. 16

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will hold a wolf trapping certification class at its regional headquarters in Bozeman on Aug. 16 from 8 a.m. to noon.

Certification is required for all would-be wolf trappers in the state of Montana. Individuals that have been certified in years past do not need to take the class again.

Online registration is required for all participants. This course, and others scheduled around the state, can be found at fwp.mt.gov under the “Education” tab. Region 3 is also planning a course in Butte in the early fall.

Classes are taught by FWP staff and experienced wolf trappers. In addition to specifics on equipment and techniques, participants will learn about the history, ethics, management, regulations and requirements of wolves and wolf trapping.


Jul 22

WA: Wildlife managers think like a wolf to trap one

Matthew Weaver

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists track, trap and monitor wolves, the better to get a handle on populations and movement throughout the state. Documentation of wolf sightings will open the door to more management options, says wolf specialist Scott Becker.

IONE, Wash. — To monitor wolf movement and population growth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists have to think like wolves.

Wolves are challenging to capture, said Scott Becker, wolf specialist for the agency. They’re bolder than coyotes, but still cautious.

“When we trap, what we try to do is basically pique their curiosity more than their natural cautiousness,” he said. “Sometimes it works, some times it doesn’t.”

The traps have to be subtle. Make it too obvious, and the wolf will know something’s up, Becker said. Human scent needs to be minimized at the trap site.

“They are smart — when they smell something there, they know something’s happened at that spot, but they may not know exactly what,” he said.

Becker, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf biologist Trent Roussin and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wildlife biologist Wade Jones were recently tracking an as yet unnamed pack of wolves on national forest land south of Sullivan Lake near Ione, Wash.

An adult male wolf was caught in one of the traps they set the next day, which is unusual, Roussin said.

“We had these guys fairly well pinned down — we knew they were in there,” Roussin said. “There were fresh tracks going up and down the road.”

The department found out about the new pack through public reports last summer and fall, Becker said. The department is contacting the person who first reported them to see if he wants to name the pack.

Based on tracking and camera surveys, Becker estimates the pack consists of at least eight wolves — four adults and four pups. The department estimates there were at least 52 wolves in 13 packs in the state as of March.

Roussin has tracked wolves for various agencies across North America.

Wolves tend to go into areas that have lots of game, Roussin said. They also follow easy travel corridors.

“The easiest mode of travel between two points — wolves seem to take that,” Roussin said. “That’s how we decide where we’re going to (set out traps.)”

The team monitors wolves year around. In the summer, the agency looks for wolf signs before setting traps.

In the winter, wolves are easier to track and count, Becker said. The agency uses a helicopter in the winter.

The trackers look for wolf scat and tracks. They seldom see wolves and rely instead on trail cameras.

“Wolves are not very subtle creatures,” Becker said. “If they’re in the area, they leave tracks and scat all over the place. Sometimes it might be hard to catch up to them and pin them down, because their territory is so large.”

The average range of a wolf is 350 square miles, he said.

Funding for tracking, trapping and monitoring wolves comes from a $10 license plate increase for personalized plates in the last legislative session, said Donny Martorello, carnivore section manager for the department.

The agency typically sets up traps in an area for 10 to 14 days, depending on how much activity they find.

Traps are laid using a combination of animal scents, glands and lures, trying to cover the scent of humans.

“Everyone has their own little secret scent that they add to those things, too,” Becker said.

The agency doesn’t try to draw wolves from miles away, because it wants to determine their travel patterns, Becker said.

They use livestock protection traps that have a molded rubber jaw to avoid injuring the wolf. They will use a drug to immobilize a captured wolf, release it from the trap and find a shady, cool spot to work on the wolf. The biologists check the animal’s temperature, which tends to increase when it is caught, and cool it if needed. The trackers check traps twice during especially hot days to make sure a trapped wolf won’t overheat.

They put a radio collar and ear tags on the wolf in addition to collecting blood and DNA samples.

Becker most enjoys trying to figure out where the wolves are and how many there are.

Is there a part of the job he likes least?

“The politics get a little hairy at times,” Becker said.

The department is often caught between ranchers concerned about the impacts the animals will have on their livestock and environmental groups anxious to see wolf populations restored.

Becker believes a consistent approach is one of the most important things the agency can do to assist both sides.

Wolves can be managed to prevent livestock losses, he said, but lethal control can also be an effective management tool if used properly.

The department emphasizes non-lethal, preventive measures, he said.

Martorello said there have not been any confirmed wolf-livestock depredations in 2014. A dog was injured by a wolf early in the year.

Becker advises farmers to contact the department if they think they have a livestock depredation or suspect they’ve found wolf tracks.

“We do everything we can to document wolves in the state, because we want them to get off the state endangered list as well, open up more management options if conflicts do arise,” he said.

“They don’t kill cows all that often,” Roussin said. “It’s not like every time they run across a cow they’re going to kill it.”

Roussin said farmers might spot tracks if wolves are in the area, but they are unlikely to actually see one.

“I’ve been here for two years and I’ve seen one (that was) not in a trap, just out walking around,” he said.

Of the 323 known wolf packs in the Northern Rockies, about 20 percent were involved in one or more livestock depredations, Becker said. The rest didn’t cause problems.

“If you actively manage only that 20-30 percent that causes problems, there’s still going to be a lot of wolves left on the landscape,” he said. “The ones that don’t cause the problems are the ones we want on the landscape. We don’t necessarily want the ones that are causing problems all the time.”




Jul 22

ID: Wolf kills Great Pyrenees in Gem County

The attack is the second confirmed depredation in that area this year.


Chisholm was born and trained to guard livestock against predators.

But last week, while on a jaunt into the mountains north of Emmett, the 200-pound Great Pyrenees was brought down by at least one wolf.

A federal Wildlife Services trapper confirmed the wolf kill based on tracks and damage to the dog’s body. Efforts to trap and kill the wolf are underway.

But it will be a long time before Tom Blessinger shakes off the pain of Chisholm’s loss.

The massive dog’s toughness and instincts made him fine protection against predators, the Emmett-area rancher said. But his main role was as a pet and treasured companion.

“He was my buddy,” Blessinger said of the dog he adopted nine years ago as a 6-month-old pup. “He loved to come along in the pickup or ride on the ATV.”

“He was a gentle giant,” Blessinger added. “I called him my chick magnet: Anytime we’d stop at a drive-in or store, we’d be surrounded by women.”


On Monday, July 14, Blessinger was in the high country near Sage Hen Reservoir to show Forest Service staff what he and other ranchers who graze cattle in the forest planned to do to improve water tanks in the area.

They were on ATVs, and Chisholm was on foot behind them. “He was normally 100 or 200 feet behind, sniffing around at anything interesting,” Blessinger said.

But this time, the dog didn’t catch up. And he didn’t show up in camp, a route he knew well and took often. Blessinger searched for his dog to no avail.

The next day, area residents and campers at Sage Hen joined the search for the big, white dog. On Wednesday, someone found Chisholm’s ravaged remains about 20 feet off Sage Hen Road and a half-mile from the Sage Hen campground, Blessinger said.

He called Wildlife Services trapper Greg Jones, who met him at the site Thursday morning and confirmed his wolf suspicions.


Wolf traps were set that same day, said Todd Grimm, state director for Wildlife Services. As of late Monday afternoon, he said, no wolf had been reported captured.

Wildlife Services kills wolves at the direction of Idaho Fish and Game, which generally seeks a “control action” when it’s been proved that a wolf has killed livestock or domestic animals, said Jennifer Struthers, wolf biologist for Fish and Game.

In most cases – 27 of 29 so far this year across Idaho – that action is trapping and killing the wolf, Grimm said. In the other two Idaho cases this year, one wolf was shot from the ground and one was shot from a helicopter, he said.

Nearly half of those 2014 reports of wolf depredation came from two parts of Idaho: near Idaho City and near Donnelly, Grimm said.

Only one other report came from the general area where Chisholm died, Grimm said. In that case, he said, a calf was killed by more than one wolf. It’s possible that a wolf involved in that incident also killed Chisholm, but there’s really no way to know, said both Grimm and Struthers.

“We don’t have a documented pack there right now, but we do know we have a few wolves in the area,” Struthers said. To qualify as a pack, a group of wolves must include at least four adults or include puppies, she said.

Blessinger said the cattle he and other members of the Ola “C” Grazing Association keep near Sage Hen have not been bothered by wolves.

Reports indicate Chisholm was killed by one or two wolves, Struthers said. Grimm said it was most likely one wolf. Blessinger thinks it would have taken at least two to bring Chisholm down.

The circumstances of Chisholm’s death sparked fear throughout the Sage Hen area, Blessinger said.

“He was only 20 feet from the road when they got him … it was in broad daylight,” he said. “And it was about half a mile from the campground. All the neighbors are packing guns now, looking for wolves.”

It is legal for people to shoot a wolf out of season if it is threatening them or their animals, Struthers said, but it is not legal to shoot a wolf on sight. Wolves are curious animals that will sometimes observe humans from a distance, she said, but that doesn’t justify shooting them.

She said that humans, including children, are generally not endangered by wolves. Bears and mountain lions are much bigger threats, she said.

Wolves are wary of humans, she said, but they “are extra-territorial” about other canines, which makes them likely to attack dogs.

“My advice to people in the campground is to keep your dogs in your sight,” Struthers said.


Jul 21

OR: Previously unconfirmed wolves kill calf in Wallowa County

George Plaven of The East Oregonian

Wolves are responsible for killing a domestic calf on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in northern Wallowa County, according to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

The carcass was found Wednesday in the Cougar Creek area, about 30 miles north of Enterprise, where wolf activity had previously been reported but never confirmed until now.

ODFW believes at least two or three wolves were present when the calf was killed. An investigation of the scene showed fresh tracks, scat and bite wounds consistent with the predators.

While the department had received irregular reports of wolf activity in this remote part of the forest, Wednesday’s discovery is the first evidence of more than one wolf taking up residence in the area. Little is known so far about these particular animals, though they do not appear to have come from any other known pack.

Biologists will attempt to collar one of the wolves in order to learn more about the group’s behavior, including information on territory, breeding and pups. ODFW must also designate a new “area of known wolf activity and area of depredating wolves,” before working with local livestock producers on a site-specific conflict deterrence plan.

Under management regulations, the department has 14 days from the first time wolves prey on livestock to develop a deterrence plan that outlines the general area, as well as ways ranchers can protect their operations using non-lethal measures such as range riders or fladry fencing. It takes at least four “qualifying” incidents within a six-month period before ODFW can even consider lethal take of wolves.

Spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said the deterrence plan will be specific to the area, but likely look similar to other plans already established with the Imnaha, Snake River and Umatilla River packs.

Those plans, as well as additional information about gray wolves in Oregon, are posted online at www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves.

ODFW officially counted 64 wolves across the state at the end of 2013, though recent developments suggest the population is on the rise. In northeast Oregon, the previously undocumented wolf OR-26 is possibly raising pups in the Mount Emily wildlife management unit near Meacham. Prior to that, tracks were found in Union and northern Baker counties, leading to an Area of Known Wolf Activity in the Catherine Creek and northern Keating units.

Gray wolves are listed under the state Endangered Species Act, and federally protected west of highways 395, 78 and 95.