By Katy Nesbitt
For The Observer
ENTERPRISE — A Wallowa County rancher shot a wolf harassing cattle on private land last week, exercising allowances granted in the Oregon wolf plan.
Last winter, Phase 3 of the Oregon Wolf Plan was triggered, allowing ranchers to legally shoot wolves caught in the act of harassing livestock. According to Todd Nash, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association wolf committee chairman, under Phase 3 rules, a person or their agent east of highways 395, 78 and 95 may shoot a wolf caught in the act of biting, wounding, killing or chasing livestock or working dogs on their property or lands they lawfully occupy without a permit if they have not baited or taken actions to attract wolves. They are to make all reasonable attempts to preserve the scene and not remove or disturb the carcass, and the take must be reported to ODFW within 24 hours.
The name of the livestock producer and location are being withheld.
“We want ranchers to know they can do this and do it legally and not have their name broadcast,” Nash said.
The Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police were notified and both agencies conducted investigations, Nash said.
According to Wallowa County Chief Deputy Fred Steen, the rancher arrived around 6 a.m. June 20 to meet with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service before moving his herd from a private pasture to a public livestock grazing allotment.
When the rancher and his wife arrived at the field, most of the cattle were spread out, but a few were bunched up along the east side of a fence. Steen said the couple had trouble with wolves in the same pasture the week before. A range rider, funded by the state, ran five wolves out of the same pasture the previous week.
Steen said as the rancher rode his horse toward the small bunch of cows by the fence, he saw a wolf “pop out of (a) ravine.” When he got closer to the bunched-up group of cows, he noticed a wolf nose to nose with a cow.
“(The cow) was taking a run at the wolf, defending herself, and the wolf was harassing the cow,” Steen said.
The rancher called Nash and asked if it was appropriate to protect his property and was told it was within his rights under Phase 3 of the wolf plan to shoot a wolf harassing livestock.
For the complete story, see the June 28 edition of The Observer.