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OR: More wolves ‘on the way,’ W. Oregon ranchers told

The Rogue pack to the south of Crater Lake is established. Wolves have also been monitored in the Keno, Ore., area and three radio collared wolves have been monitored traveling through the southern Cascades south of LaPine, Ore., and into the Siskyous in California.

By CRAIG REED For the Capital Press

WINSTON, Ore. — Radio collared wolves have been monitored in the southern Cascades Mountains of Oregon and officials agree it won’t be long before multiple packs take up residence in those mountains, in the Siskiyou Mountains and probably in the Coast Range.

That was part of the message delivered by state and federal officials during a presentation April 6 at the annual Douglas County Livestock’s Spring Livestock Conference. A timeline is not being predicted for the permanent settlement of the four-legged animal in Western Oregon, but there was consensus that they are quietly venturing west from northeastern Oregon packs.

“Wolves are on their way, the growth curve of their population shows that,” Tod Lum, the Douglas District wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said to the audience of about 50 livestock producers.

“It’s just a matter of time before they get here,” said Paul Wolf, the supervisor of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services program in Douglas County.

“It’ll just take a little bit of time,” he added, knocking on wood.

The Rogue pack to the south of Crater Lake is established. Wolves have also been monitored in the Keno, Ore., area and three radio collared wolves have been monitored traveling through the southern Cascades south of LaPine, Ore., and into the Siskyous in California.

More recently, the OR33 wolf was reportedly seen near the Lemolo Lake-Highway 138 junction in the Cascades in eastern Douglas County last year. Then last October, a wolf, possibly OR33, was seen about 10 miles east of Roseburg, Ore. Those are considered “credible, but good unconfirmed sightings,” according to Lum. To be a credible sighting, the animal or physical evidence must be photographed and turned into an ODFW office.

Western Oregon ranchers are concerned about the arrival of wolves because they’ll be one more possible predator on their livestock, especially targeting newborn calves and lambs. Ranchers must already deal with coyotes, cougars, bears, eagles and ravens.

Veril Nelson, a cattle rancher east of Sutherlin, Ore., and co-chairman of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association wolf committee, said one of the OCA’s biggest concerns is that in Western Oregon the wolf remains protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and even if a wolf is seen killing a calf, there is nothing the rancher can do about it.

“The association would like to see the wolf taken off the endangered list,” he said, noting the animal is already off the state’s endangered list. “We’re going to be lobbying at the federal level for that.”

Nelson said the environmental groups “are pushing for and expressing they do not want wolves to be hunted, regardless of their population.” Nelson has seen photos of wolf attacks on calves and he describes it as “bite, bite, bite, bite and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

The Oregon Wolf Plan is currently being reviewed. Stakeholders in the wolf plan met in Salem, Ore., in March and made recommendations on how to revise the plan that was first written in 2008. Those recommendations will be presented to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at an April 21 meeting in Klamath Falls, Ore.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, “The goal of the plan is to ensure the conservation of gray wolves as required by Oregon law while protecting the social and economic interests of all Oregonians. Minimizing wolf-livestock conflict and reducing livestock losses to wolves is an important part of the Wolf Plan.”

Suzanne Stone, the Northwest representative with Defenders of Wildlife and a resident of Boise, Idaho, was also a presenter at the conference. She emphasized to the ranchers the use of non-lethal methods to discourage wolves from having confrontations with livestock. Those methods include having guard dogs live with the livestock, removing bone and carcass piles that attract predators, using sirens and air horns, hanging streamers on fences and increasing human presence around the livestock.

“Some people are interested in using the methods and want to protect their livestock the best way they can and others say they just don’t want them (wolves) here,” Stone said. “I think they will expand here, but probably not into urbanized areas. Wolves tend to avoid human contact.

“Western Oregon is going through the same thing Idaho and Montana did regarding wolves,” she said. “There’s so much misinformation out there about wolves. Don’t get waylaid and waste a lot of time and energy on rumors. Focus and work on preventive measures.”

Nelson said in some situations those non-lethal methods should be used, but “no tool is going to work for very long because those predators are smart and will adjust to get what they want.” He also emphasized that even if wolves don’t kill livestock, the predators can stress the domestic animals into lower conception rates and weight loss.

Nelson said he would be attending the April 21 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Klamath Falls and added that he hoped other livestock associations would also have representatives there.