Biologists discuss spate of local wolf kills
[Reprinted from original]
State and federal wildlife biologists in Klamath Falls said their agencies are working cooperatively to reduce the number of livestock killed by wolves in the Klamath Basin.
Elizabeth Willy, senior wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Klamath Falls office, and Mike Moore, assistant district wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Klamath Falls office, said two recent cattle kills in the Fort Klamath area have focused efforts on preventing more depredations.
Moore said efforts continue to keep the four known wolves in the Rogue Pack away from cattle ranches and, instead, living in forests and feeding on deer and elk. The pack is known to travel consistently across the Southern Oregon Cascades in Klamath and Jackson counties.
Unusually, after last week’s two kills — Thursday and Friday near Fort Klamath — the wolves were chased off by humans before devouring the two yearling cattle.
After being notified by a neighbor on an early morning walk, Popson went to his pasture and found four wolves about 200 yards from his house. As he approached, the wolves sauntered off. Popson found the steer, which died that afternoon from injuries inflicted by the pack.
“They were not able to have a feeding event so they were probably hungry,” Moore said of what happened on Friday.
The next day, a range rider who was patrolling the area, passed by wolves feeding on a steer likely killed earlier that day.
It’s believed the wolves ran off when the range rider unknowingly came near. Moore said the range rider never saw the wolves. The yearling steer, which weighed an estimated 800 pounds, was skinned but not eaten.
“It wasn’t fed on at all,” he said.
Because of the attacks, Moore said personnel from the state and federal agencies will continue hazing operations and maintain a human presence in coming days.
Willy said that wolves in Oregon are an endangered species west of Highway 395, which runs from Pendleton south through Burns. She said it is illegal to kill a wolf without a federal permit. Wildlife biologists with the ODFW and Service are permitted to trap and collar wolves, but staff from the agencies cannot intentionally kill a wolf in western Oregon.
Willy said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ODF&W and APHIS Wildlife Services (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services) are “all coordinating and are implementing non-lethal methods to prevent additional depredations. In the past, nighttime human presence has been the best non-lethal approach to minimize depredations in this area and this approach is being used.”
Moore believes trapping efforts, which allow biologists to place collars used to track pack movement, are challenging because, “the Rogue Pack has seen a lot of different traps.”
“Wolves are smart, and trapping them is an art that takes considerable time and effort,” echoed Willy.
While the Rogue Pack is the best known, other packs in Southern Oregon and far Northern California include the Indigo Pack and Silver Lake Pack in Lake County and the Lassen Pack in Lassen and Plumas counties of California.
Moore said people should be aware of the possibility of wolves in the area, though he downplays the threat.
“Generally speaking, wolves get a bad rap as monsters with big teeth,” he said. “It is good to have the presence (wolves) are on the landscape.”
He urged people hiking in forested areas like the Sky Lake Wilderness and neighboring lands to not travel alone and keep dogs on leashes.