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OR: Group discusses wolf kills, deterrent tactics

H&N Staff Reporter

In a Tuesday morning meeting, the Klamath County Wolf Depredation Advisory Committee discussed the October wolf killing of four calves in the Fort Klamath area.

Three of the calves belonged to DeTar Livestock of Dixon, Calif., and were killed on land owned by Bill Nicholson. The other belonged to Roger Nicholson and was killed on his land.

Tom Collum, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Klamath Falls Distirct biologist, said ODFW confirmed wolves in the Rogue pack killed the calves. He said more than one wolf was likely involved in the killing.

The advisory committee, tasked with distributing state wolf depredation funds to farmers and ranchers, did not make a compensation decision regarding DeTar Livestock’s and Roger Nicholson’s cases. Committee member Lyndon Kerns said they would likely discuss compensation at a meeting within a few months.

Kerns estimated each calf, 550- to 650-pounds, had a market value of about $1,000, which would be returned to the livestock owners.

The committee also authorized funds from their current grant cycle for extra crackers shells — noise-makers shot from 12-gauge pistols to deter wolf activity.

Collum said the cracker-shells would be stockpiled for later use.

The committee agreed that funds from their next state grant cycle, which Collum said would begin in April or May, would be used to purchase inflatable dancing tube men as often seen in car dealership parking lots.

Collum said he has no personal experience using the inflatable men to deter wolves, but wolf conservation groups tout their effectiveness. He said they would be installed in pastures with past wolf depredation issues when packs were determined to be in the area.

The inflatable men would cost around $1,000 each, Collum said.

Collum said 2018 was a particularly bad year for wolf kills in the region, with four documented in Klamath County and seven in Jackson County. He said there were no confirmed livestock killings by wolves in 2017 and it was hard to pinpoint why activity jumped last year.

“There are so many different variables with the prey base,” Collum said. “With wolves, it’s not like they develop an appetite for beef or sheep — it’s all about protein. To them, it’s mainly an opportunity.”

Collum said ODFW tried to increase human presence through things like spotlights and cracker shells in the Fort Klamath area after the October cattle killings. Wolves don’t like humans, he said.

He said they tried other tactics too, like spreading scat and urine from wolf packs other than the Rogue to keep them out. This can mimic a wolf territory boundary, Collum said.