Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff will kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack after confirming they were involved in another livestock loss.
The two wolves that will be targeted are the alpha male and an uncollared wolf in the pack. Data from the alpha male’s GPS collar confirm he was at the scene where the calf was killed earlier this week.
Removing two wolves will reduce the size of Imnaha pack to two -- the adult/alpha female and a pup born in spring 2011. Other wolves from the Imnaha pack moved to new areas earlier this year.
“Today’s decision was not made lightly,” said ODFW Director Roy Elicker. “We’re working hard to conserve wolves in Oregon, yet be sensitive to the losses suffered by livestock owners.”
The Sept. 22 investigation brings to 14 the number of livestock animals confirmed to be killed by the Imnaha pack in the past year and a half. ODFW or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed seven losses this year (two in February, and on April 30, May 4 and 17, June 5, and Sept. 22) and seven last year.
The 2011 losses are repeating a pattern similar to 2010, when the Imnaha pack wolves killed livestock April through early June and again in the fall (September). An additional two losses were determined to be probable wolf kills by this pack, including one on Sept. 7, 2011.
ODFW assumed responsibility for wolf management in the eastern third of Oregon May 5, 2011, after wolves in this area were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act. After four confirmed livestock losses in spring 2011, ODFW killed two wolves from the Imnaha pack in mid-May.
Under the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, ODFW kills wolves after chronic livestock depredation.
The investigation scene showed clear evidence of a wolf attack. The large spring calf had been dead less than two days, yet was almost completely consumed, suggesting the entire pack had fed on it. The alpha female was observed near the investigation site the following day, and GPS collar data indicates the alpha male was with her at the time.
This latest confirmed depredation occurred in the same area where livestock losses had been confirmed in May and June 2011, on private property with livestock operations near Joseph.
Landowners in this area have been using numerous non-lethal measures to avoid wolf-livestock problems.
Meanwhile, the Walla Walla wolf pack of northern Umatilla County had pups this year, trail camera footage shows.
The footage shows at least two pups, but there may be more. Other trail camera footage taken in August 2011 show at least two adult wolves with the Walla Walla pack.
If at least two Walla Walla wolf pups survive through Dec. 31, the pack would be considered a breeding pair for 2011. The first conservation goal for Oregon wolf management is four breeding pairs for three consecutive years east of the Cascades.
The Wenaha wolf pack produced pups last year and in 2009 but ODFW has not found evidence of reproduction for that pack yet this year. The other known wolf pack in Oregon, the Imnaha, produced one pup this year.
More information on wolves in Oregon: