By ERIK NEUMANN
Growing conflicts last year between a Southwest Oregon wolf pack and livestock are the inspiration for a workshop in Jackson County this weekend. The two-day event is focused on how Southern Oregon ranchers can protect their animals.
Last year the group of six wolves known as the Rogue pack killed 13 animals, including several dogs, according to officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The pack has affected a small number of people, according to ODFW District Wildlife Biologist Steve Niemela, one of the weekend workshop’s organizers. But, he says, dealing with wolf kills is an emotional, as well as financial drain on ranchers.
“They’re up, in some cases, all night long. I’ve received calls from ranchers at 1 o’clock in the morning telling me that they’ve been chasing wolves around their pasture all night and now they’ve found a dead animal,” Niemela said. “It creates quite a strain and quite a toll on people.”
Wolves are still protected under the federal endangered species act in Western Oregon. They are delisted from state and federal endangered species protections in Eastern Oregon. The workshop at the Jackson County Fairgrounds will focus on wolf deterrents, such as removing bones from ranchland and installing tools for landowners like electric fences and strobe lights.
A larger goal for the weekend, according to Randy Wolf, vice president of the Jackson County Stockman’s Association, is building trust between livestock producers and state agencies.
“One of the things that I want to see is these different groups working together because everybody wants the same thing,” Wolf said. “There’s nobody out there that wants to see livestock eaten by a wolf.”
The Rogue pack was designated in 2014. Their range includes Northeastern Jackson County and Klamath County.
Conflicts between wolves and livestock usually increase during the winter months when their natural food sources become limited.