BAKER CITY — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a permit Thursday, July 29, allowing a Baker County ranching couple, or their designated agents, to kill up to four wolves from the Lookout Mountain Pack.
The pack, which consists of an estimated nine wolves, has attacked cattle four times in the past two weeks, killing two and injuring two others. The pack has been determined to be chronically depredating and presents a significant risk to livestock in the area, according to an ODFW press release.
The permit allows the livestock producers or their agents to kill up to four uncollared wolves in a designated area, a mix of private land and public land where they have a grazing permit, where wolves are determined to be a significant risk to livestock. The permit expires Aug. 21 or when livestock are removed from the area, whichever comes first.
ODFW staff may kill wolves included in the permit to assist the producer. The permit does not allow killing of the pack’s breeding pair, both of which have tracking collars.
Under the Wolf Plan rules, livestock producers must be using and document nonlethal methods appropriate to the situation before lethal control can be considered. Also, there can be no identified circumstances on the property, such as bone piles or carcasses, that could be attracting wolves.
ODFW found no attractants during its investigations of depredations. The producers have been implementing nonlethal measures for years. Since January 2021 these measures included night checking of calving cows, use of rag box, placing calving cows near house and barns in small 30-acre pastures, hazing wolves out of the calving areas, burying dead calves and cows and frequent communication with ODFW on the wolves’ location.
Since cattle were placed in the large rangeland pastures, the livestock producers have checked them frequently, placed cows in specific pastures based on wolf activity, and recorded and communicated wolf presence to ODFW and neighboring producers. Since the depredations started on July 14, producers have increased their human presence, hazed wolves using firearms, removed injured livestock from pastures, and shifted cattle to pastures with less forage available to try to prevent further conflict.
The Lookout Mountain wolves were first documented in 2019 and were documented as a breeding pair for the first time in 2020, meaning they had two pups that survived through the end of the year. Four wolves including two pups were documented at the end of 2020 and seven 2021 pups were observed in May. Currently both adult breeders have functioning radio collars.
Lethal action is authorized with the goal of putting an end to the chronic depredation, but livestock producers also are required to continue to use nonlethal measures.