Sunday morning a 400-pound calf was found dead on the Zumwalt Prairie. A subsequent investigation determined that it was not killed by wolves.
Wildlife Services and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators arrived around 9:30 a.m. The calf was found with its nose and one front leg in a pond and had been dead approximately a day and a half, Rod Childers, Oregon Cattlemen's Wolf Committee Chairman said.
The remaining front leg had bite marks and evidence of hematoma and the other front leg was torn off and separated from the carcass up a hill 8 yards, and the tail was gone, said Childers.
He said bite marks on the carcass had evidence of a 1 7/8 to 2 inch spacing between them, which is consistent with wolf bites, but the Fish and Wildlife report surmised the calf was fed on by coyotes.
Wallowa County Commissioner Susan Roberts, who was at the investigation, said the ribs were eaten down to the spine, the calf was stripped clean and the majority of the meat was gone.
Childers said the calf was found 10 to 15 feet from a pool of blood the "size of the hood of a pickup".
"Coyotes don't drag down a 400 pound carcass - a live animal bleeds, a dead animal doesn't," said Childers, "And they don't generally run as a pack in the middle of the summer."
Todd Nash, who has lost several calves to wolves in the past few years agreed.
"I've never seen a 400-pound calf killed by coyotes, ever," said Nash.
Radio collar evidence has indicated that the Imnaha Pack wolves have been in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest this summer and not on the prairie, but wolf sightings are prevalent.
Two months ago Duwayne Voss, a Wallowa County rancher, saw a wolf chasing a horse approximately 3/8 of a mile from where the calf was found dead. A Fish and Wildlife investigation determined that the horse was not injured by wolves.
In late winter, Childers said two wolves were video taped on the prairie. When the tape was compared to photographs of the original 16 Imnaha Pack wolves, they didn't match up and are believed to not be attached to that pack, he said.
However, wolf activity on the prairie does appear to be following the same trails or "wolf highways" as the Imnaha Pack did when they traveled across the Wallowa Valley, said Childers.