UNION COUNTY – With non-lethal measures failing to stop depredations, ODFW has authorized the lethal removal of up to two wolves in the High Valley area east of Union (Union County), an area previously used by the Catherine Pack.
The agency will allow the landowner or their agent (potentially USDA Wildlife Services) to kill the wolves on the single private land property where the depredations occurred. The permit is valid until March 11, 2023.
ODFW confirmed three depredation events on their private land pastures on Dec. 25, 29, and Jan. 10, resulting in the death of five 10 or 11-month-old calves. That level of depredation meets the definition of chronic livestock depredation under Wolf Plan Rules (minimum of two confirmed depredations in nine months). Lethal take can be authorized by ODFW in chronic depredation situations when there is a significant continued risk to livestock present in the area and non-lethal preventative measures were used.
During one of the events, the livestock producer observed wolves standing over one of the dead calves, but was unable to shoot the wolves because they could not do so unless they caught the wolves in the act of attacking their livestock. Sometimes wolves are found scavenging on dead livestock that they did not kill. This permit will allow the livestock owner to shoot wolves while they are on the property near livestock to prevent the potential for further losses, even when not actively attacking livestock.
The producer had increased human presence, fed livestock in the evening to concentrate them overnight, moved calves to a more secure pasture, and employed lights and noise (including a radio and gunshots to deter wolves). After the second depredation, they also used fox lights (flashing lights) and moved the calves to another pasture closer to the road to increase visibility and human presence.
Under Wolf Plan rules, there can also be no identified circumstances on the property (such as bone piles or carcasses) that are attracting wolves. ODFW searched the immediate area for any bone piles, carcasses, or other attractants during their investigations and found none.
The producer’s cows will start calving in the next month and with even more vulnerable calves on the property, the risk to livestock may increase. Lethal action is authorized with the goal of putting an end to chronic depredation, and the livestock producer will also continue to use nonlethal measures to reduce conflict. Another update will be posted about this permit only if wolves are removed or the permit is extended.