By GEORGE PLAVEN
HALFWAY, Ore. — An Eastern Oregon cattle rancher was justified when he shot a wolf that was chasing his working dog March 12 in Baker County, according to authorities.
Lawrence Aguilar shot the wolf — a male juvenile from the Pine Creek pack — on the property in Halfway, east of Baker City. The Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan allows for killing wolves caught in the act of biting, wounding, killing or chasing livestock or working dogs, so long as they are not intentionally lured with bait or other attractants.
Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said Aguilar immediately called Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife after he shot the wolf, and cooperated with the investigation.
“He did what you’re supposed to do,” Shirtcliff said. “This was in defense of property, and he did it right.”
Aguilar did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
Shirtcliff said the wolf was one of four chasing Aguilar’s dog on the ranch, “very close to his home.”
“He felt like that wolf was in the attack of his dog,” Shirtcliff said. “The dog really was doing its job, so to speak, in terms of protecting livestock.”
The Pine Creek pack has repeatedly preyed on livestock in the past. In 2018, ODFW shot three wolves from the pack after five confirmed attacks, killing four calves and injuring another six at two separate ranches roughly 5-6 miles apart.
ODFW removed gray wolves from the state endangered species list in 2015, though the animals remain federally protected in the western two-thirds of the state. Wolves can only be killed legally in cases of self-defense west of highways 395, 78 and 95.
As of 2018, Oregon has at least 137 known wolves and 16 packs, though most of the population remains concentrated in the northeast corner of the state.