Slain calf confirms wolves are in Oregon county

PENDLETON, Ore. — Wolves killed a domestic calf at Cougar Creek in northern Wallowa County, confirming their presence in the area.

The carcass was discovered last week about 30 miles north of Enterprise on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

The East Oregonian newspaper reports wolf activity had been reported in that remote part of the forest, but the killing was the first confirmation.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife believes at least two or three wolves were there when the calf was killed. The scene showed fresh tracks, scat and bite wounds consistent with the predators.

Biologists will try to collar one of the wolves to learn more about the group’s behavior, including information on territory, breeding and pups.

The agency must also designate a new “area of known wolf activity” before working with local livestock producers on a conflict-deterrence plan.

Under management rules, the department has two weeks from the first time when wolves prey on livestock to develop a blueprint that outlines the general area, as well as non-lethal methods ranchers can employ to protect their operations.

It takes at least four “qualifying” incidents within six months before the state wildlife agency can consider killing wolves.

Though specific to the area, the plan will probably look similar to those established with the Imnaha, Snake River and Umatilla River packs, said Michelle Dennehy, ODFW spokeswoman. The plans are posted online at www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves.

The agency counted 64 wolves across the state at the end of 2013, though the population is believed larger.

Gray wolves in northeast Oregon are listed under the state Endangered Species Act. Wolves living in western Oregon are covered by the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

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Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info

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