BAKER CITY, Ore. — Experts confirmed wolves killed 23 lambs on an Eastern Oregon ranch in the Keating Valley, east of Baker City, Ore.
The loss originally stood at 19 lambs, but wildlife officials said Thursday that four more lambs had died from injuries caused by wolves.
Michelle Dennehy with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said experts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have confirmed the lambs were killed by wolfs. A remote camera captured this scene of the wolves.
It's the first documented case of a rancher losing livestock to wolves in Oregon since the animals returned to the state.
The evidence, including the photograph above, was reviewed by wolf experts in several states, said Phil Carroll, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The bite marks, the pattern of how the animals were attacked, the way they were bitten, the power of the bite, the distance between the bite marks, tracks, scat, tracks going off into the woods -- there was nothing else to indicate it was anything other than wild wolves," Carroll said. "Everybody, all of our experts, and experts in several states where they've had lots of wolves for some time, say the critters in the picture are wolves."
|Curt Jacobs (above) said the lambs on his ranch were killed, not eaten. (Photo courtesy S. John Collins/Baker City Herald)|
Rancher Curt Jacobs told the Baker City Herald newspaper most of the lambs were killed but not eaten.
The last reported bounty on a wolf in Oregon was paid in 1946 for a wolf killed on the Umpqua National Forest, Dennehy said. Wildlife officials consider that date the point at which wolves were killed off in Oregon.
Last July, wildlife officials confirmed the existence of a wolf pack with pups in a forested area of northern Union County, north of where the lamb were killed this week. This was the first evidence of a wolf pack and wolf reproduction in Oregon, Dennehy said.
Wolves started returning to Oregon from packs in Idaho in 1999, when a wolf dubbed B-45 crossed the Snake River into Baker County.
In May 2000, a wolf was found dead on Interstate 84 east of Baker City. The wolf had been hit by traffic. Later that year, an uncollared wolf was found shot to death near Ukiah, east of Baker City.
A collared wolf was detected in the state in January 2008.
Wolves remain on the federal endangered species list but are scheduled to be de-listed in the eastern third of Oregon on May 4.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The following is a press release courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed that a wolf or wolves were responsible for killing a number of lambs on two occasions between April 9 and April 13 on a privately owned ranch east of Baker City, Ore.
“We’ve been working since this weekend with the rancher and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and others to help the rancher avoid any more incidents like these,” said Gary Miller, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s La Grande office. “The rancher has taken useful steps already, and I’ve received fladry (electric fence with flagging) from Defenders of Wildlife. We’ll take that to the ranch to discourage further attacks,” he said.
Federal and state agency biologists are now attempting to catch one or more wolves in the area, to fit them with radio transmitting collars and collect blood samples before the wolves are released. The collars transmit unique radio frequencies so the wolves can be monitored in their movements following release. Monitoring will help confirm how many animals are involved, and whether a pack has taken up residence in the area. The information will help inform agency and landowner efforts to discourage further depredation.
Gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, an area that includes the eastern third of Oregon (east of a line down highways 395, 78 and 20), are scheduled to come off the federal Endangered Species Act list on May 4, 2009. Wolves will remain listed as endangered by the State of
For now, although all partners are working together, any final decisions on how to respond to this or further depredations are the responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Defenders of Wildlife, a non-government organization which has offered compensation to landowners for wolf depredations for years, has verified that its compensation program will extend to
The non-lethal methods of discouraging wolves from killing livestock have sometimes been used effectively in
Experts have long predicted that wolves from the expanding
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials remind the public it is illegal to shoot a wolf, even one mistaken for another animal such as a coyote. Any gray wolf in
Individuals who see a wolf, or suspect or discover wolf activity are asked to immediately contact one of the following:
• Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Wolf Coordinator
• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Coordinator John Stephenson: cell, 541-786-3282.
Wolf sightings can also be reported online through ODFW’s wolf Web site: www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/