The Rogue Pack’s taste for beef continues after a 700-pound calf found dead and partially eaten Saturday in northeast Jackson County became the fifth cow kill attributed to gray wolf OR-7’s pack in the past three weeks, officials said.
“It obviously means they’ve figured out how to take livestock,” said Steve Niemela, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist who investigated last weekend’s cases. “It also means we have to keep working with (cattle) producers for nonlethal deterrents.”
OR-7 and his pack will not be subject to lethal removal by ODFW because they are in Western Oregon, where gray wolves are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Wolves in Western Oregon are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. FWS biologist John Stephenson in Bend did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
Niemela said state and federal agencies will continue to work with landowners to reduce the likelihood of damage. Recently a work party removed a “bone pile,” a repository for dead animal carcasses common on ranches, from a ranch where some predation has occurred.
Research in Eastern Oregon shows that removing bone piles changes wolf movements, Niemela said.
Also, biologists have had some success here with using flags, lights and sounds to keep wolves out of areas where predation has occurred, Niemela said.
The 11-month-old heifer discovered Saturday was one of three dead calves found on a 50-acre private pasture in the Rancheria area, but an investigation could confirm that only one was killed by a predator, and the kill is within the Rogue Pack’s home range, according to the ODFW predation report detailing the case.
One of the other dead calves, which was likely killed Nov. 6, was mostly consumed, and an inspection of the remaining hide showed no indication of a predator attack, according to the ODFW report. However, it was listed as a possible wolf predation but unknown, the report states.
The third cow was found dead in a nearby creek and an examination found no trauma, tooth marks or other evidence of a predator attack, so it was classified as “other.”
“Not only was it not killed by a wolf, we have no evidence of anything attacking it,” Niemela said. “How it ended up in that creek, I don’t know. But we have to go from physical evidence.”
No chase or kill scenes were found near the carcasses, two of which were likely killed one to three days prior to their Saturday discovery, the report states.
Neighbors reported hearing wolf howls Nov. 2, and a ranch hand heard wolves the night before the carcasses were discovered, the report stated.
As with previous cases, the owner can apply for compensation through Jackson County’s Wolf Advisory Committee.
The attacks followed the deaths of four cows confirmed killed during the last week of October by the Rogue Pack in Klamath County’s Wood River Valley, part of the pack’s eastern range, according to ODFW.
The Rogue Pack was also blamed for the killing of a large Tibetan mastiff guard dog on a private ranch in the general area of this weekend’s attacks.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.