By RaeLynn Ricarte
The cow of a Sherman County rancher that was attacked June 14 by wolves while grazing on private summer pasture near Weston, about 134 miles east of The Dalles, is likely to recover from her wounds.
“She’s doing well and she’s going to have a whale of a scar, but looks like she’s probably going to make it,” said Mark Lane, whose home base for cattle operations is on Monkland Road.
“We’ve been feeding her grains to help her recover and she is a little less high-strung than she was right after it happened.”
Lane had been uncertain of the pregnant cow’s survival due to a bacterial infection that occurred after the attack. She had deep claw marks around a missing chunk of meat and muscle on her left haunch, and also on the right haunch.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that two tagged wolves from the Umatilla Pack were in the pasture where Lane’s cows were grazing the night of the attack. The previous day, that same pack killed seven sheep inside a flagged fence about one mile from where Lane’s herd was foraging.
The decision about whether Mark and his wife, Dee, will qualify for compensation to cover the veterinary bills and cost of fuel to move 21 pregnant cows from the site of the attack will be made by the Sherman County Wolf Compensation Committee.
Wasco County’s new committee will also have to look at how much a rancher should receive for losses tied to a confirmed wolf attack, said Keith Nantz, a Maupin rancher.
He is a member of the committee and president of the North Central Livestock Association, which requested formation of the local panel on behalf of ranchers from Wasco and Sherman counties.
In Wallowa County, where the wolf population is growing, livestock owners receive $250 for a wounded calf and $500 for an injured cow.
Because wolf activity in the area kept his cattle agitated after the wounded cow was brought home, Lane said he moved nine cows to his father-in-law’s pasture in Umatilla County at a lower elevation.
“The wolves haven’t been down there as far as we know,” he said.
He brought 12 cows home and has been giving them hay while he tries to find other grazing land — no small feat in a state where 60 percent of the land is in public ownership — or chances a return to the pasture near Weston.
“I’ve been told by ODFW officials that the wolves are supposed to move to a higher elevation in a couple of weeks,” said Lane. “But it’s going to be like playing Russian roulette to take my cows back there.”
Last Thursday, June 26, Wasco County Chief Deputy Lane Magill and Deputies Chris McNeel and Scott Williams joined Wasco County Commissioner Steve Kramer and Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lowry at a training session on how to conduct wolf investigations.
Magill and Lohrey will work in partnership with ODFW and U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists to look into suspicious cattle deaths and these investigations will be treated like crime scenes. Magill said ranchers need to limit foot traffic around the site of a kill so evidence as to the cause of death won’t be destroyed.
Although there are currently no known wolves in Wasco County, ranchers from eastern Oregon who are now dealing with attacks on livestock, as well as officials from state and federal wildlife management agencies, say they are moving through the area and will one day make it home.
In mid-June, the Wasco County Commission appointed two ranchers and two wolf proponents to a committee that will seek compensation on behalf of ranchers when a kill does occur.
The group will meet sometime in the near future to appoint two business representatives as mandated by Oregon law.
Applications are being accepted for those positions until 5 p.m. Friday, July 18, through the county’s website, www.co.wasco.or.us.
Under the state‘s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan adopted in 2005, the committee can seek grants from the state to institute non-lethal prevention measures, such as flagged fencing, that are intended to aid in the co-existence of wolves and livestock.
Kramer expects it to be difficult to obtain much in the way of state funding, unless the allotted $100,000 per year is increased, due to the payouts already going to counties in the eastern sector of the state with growing wolf populations.
He recently learned that $65,000 earmarked for 2014 is going to Wallowa County ranchers alone.
In 2013, the state paid $62,820 to seven counties for livestock kills by predators.