A rancher in northeast Oregon’s Wallowa County requested the state Department of Fish and Wildlife use lethal control against the Harl Butte wolfpack, which has attacked calves six times in the past year.
An ODFW spokeswoman said the department received the request Friday afternoon and will make a decision in the coming days. The request came after ODFW confirmed a calf found dead July 26 had been killed by wolves.
The calf was estimated to have weighed 400 to 500 pounds but had been mostly consumed by the time the carcass was discovered. Only the skeleton and hide were left. An ODFW investigator estimated the calf was killed July 20-22.
Data from a GPS tracking collar showed a wolf designated OR-50 was within 200 yards of the carcass four times from July 21 to 25. Bite marks on the carcass and fresh wolf tracks in the area contributed to the confirmation.
ODFW has confirmed six attacks on calves by the Harl Butte pack between July 15, 2016 and July 22, 2017. In addition to the calf found dead most recently, another calf was found alive July 21 with multiple bite marks, including one wound that was 4 inches long and 3 inches wide. That attack was estimated to have occurred about a week earlier. Both occurred on public land grazing allotments.
The Harl Butte pack also was blamed for killing a calf on private pasture in April.
Killing wolves is not a simple process, however. Under Oregon’s management rules, ODFW may authorize “lethal take” if there have been two confirmed livestock depredations by wolves in the area, or one confirmed depredation followed by three attempted attacks, which can include “testing or stalking,” department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said in an email.
However, the person requesting lethal control must document that non-lethal protection has been unsuccessful, and the producer must show nothing was done that attracted wolf-livestock conflict and that he or she has complied with laws and conditions of any harassment or take permit.
ODFW may authorize lethal control to be done by its staff, by authorized agents or by USDA’s Wildlife Services.