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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Wallowa County commissioner loses calf to Imnaha Pack wolves

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Wallowa County commissioner loses calf to Imnaha Pack wolves

ENTERPRISE — Wolves have killed another calf in Northeastern Oregon, according to the calf’s owner, Wallowa County Commissioner Paul Castilleja.

The calf was found dead by wolves last Wednesday morning by a range rider on the Divide between Big Sheep Creek and the Imnaha 

River.

Castilleja runs cattle on a ranch owned by Denny and Ivalou Johnson. Johnson said the calf had evidence of wolf-caused trauma on its flanks and hindquarters. He said an investigation confirmed that the Imnaha Pack killed the calf.

Castilleja said he has a problem with how wolves are being handled. 

“Now I know exactly how it feels (to lose a calf),” the county commissioner said. “I don’t want compensation, but maybe a dead wolf is what I’d like.”

Wolves have been an issue for several years on the Johnson ranch. 

Johnson has lost several head of cattle to wolves since 2010 and said he’s taken extra precautions to protect his herd this year.

“When we turned out May 18 my hired man, Don Davis, took his camp trailer up on the Divide and he and his wife lived among the cows the first month,” Johnson said.

He said throughout the summer Davis rides a four-wheeler through the herd every morning and every evening. 

“Twice a day, every day, seven days a week he’s out there checking,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he has two other riders helping out, as well. 

“We really blanketed the herd and we documented right from the start,” he said.

Johnson said he drives up to the ranch from his Joseph home, a 30-mile round trip, two or three times a week to check on the herd at night. On the weekends, he and Davis ride the entire ranch on horseback. He said they aren’t just looking for wolf signs, but for sickness and to ensure his cattle are in the right pastures and not in his neighbors. 

“We were going to do everything we could possibly do to avoid this kind of encounter, but they still sneak in and we get hit between 3:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Wayne Bronson, who was hired as a range rider with state and federal funding, has been a big help. 

“He has done a fantastic job of keeping us abreast of where the wolves are,” Johnson said. “Don also has a receiver when he goes out in the morning and at night so we have a lot of information.”

Johnson said GPS information indicated members of the Imnaha Pack were in the area Sunday and Monday. The calf was found in the Three Buck drainage and an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, a USDA Wildlife Services agent and Sheriff Steve
Rogers responded to the scene.

“They did a real thorough job going over that cow,” Johnson said. “It’s really hard to track anything this time of year, the ground is so hard and dry.”

A lawsuit against the state for killing problem wolves was settled this spring. The two sides agreed that in order to kill depredating wolves there must be four wolf-caused livestock kills by
the same pack within six months.

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.

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