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Wolves blamed for fourth dead cow in a week near Fort Klamath

The Rogue Wolfpack, including OR-7, is believed to have killed cattle.

By Lee Juillerat

For the Capital Press

Published on October 29, 2018 5:08PM

Last changed on October 30, 2018 5:18PM

Butch Wampler, Tom Collum and Mike Moore inspect dead calves near Fort Klamath, Ore.

Courtesy of Bill Nicholson

Butch Wampler, Tom Collum and Mike Moore inspect dead calves near Fort Klamath, Ore.

Attacked by wolves, this beef cow died in a ditch.

Courtesy of Bill Nicholson

Attacked by wolves, this beef cow died in a ditch.

The number of calves killed in the Fort Klamath area by the Rogue Wolf Pack now totals four.

Officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who over last weekend confirmed the killings of three yearlings found over a three-day period last week, Tuesday confirmed a fourth dead calf found Friday morning was killed by wolves. The three other dead calves were found three different days last week on Wood River Valley ranch lands owned by Bill Nicholson that are leased to DeTar Livestock of Dixon, Calif. The fourth was discovered Friday on neighboring land owned by Roger Nicholson, Bill Nicholson’s cousin.

Tom Collum, wildlife biologist for ODF&W’s Klamath Falls office, said personnel are taking turns camping in a field near the Nicholson Ranch where they are using non-lethal methods, including sirens, large bonfires, strobe lights and the firing of cracker shells, to try to deter wolves.

“We’re just trying to employ some different hazing devices,” Collum said.

One camper reported hearing howling and distressed bawling about 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, but no noise has been reported in recent nights.

Remote cameras are being used to help track possible movement and five traps have been set in hopes of capturing a wolf or wolves so they can be collaring with tracking devices. Efforts at tracking wolf movements have been frustrated because none of the Rogue Pack wolves, including OR-7, have operating collars. Nicholson said the number of wolves in the valley is uncertain because one camera picked up six, including OR-7, while five were seen by another camera in a nearby field at about the same time. OR-7 has a collar but it is no longer transmitting signals.

In 2016, when four grazing cattle were attacked and eaten alive by wolves, ODF&W and other game biologists also stayed overnight in an effort to deter wolf predation. At the time, one wolf had an operating collar that helped track the pack’s movements.

On Saturday, when ODF&W biologists visited the Nicholson ranch, it was determined one calf had been attacked and was bleeding when it was dragged 500 feet to a ditch, where it died of its wounds.

Until last week it was believed the Rogue Pack was on the Jackson County side of the Cascades. In September it was determined a large dog guarding cattle near Prospect had been killed by a wolf. Before the recent killing, the last confirmed cattle attacks by the Rogue Pack was in January, when two calves were killed two days apart near Butte Falls.

Based on the ODF&W findings posted on its website, a dead 600-pound calf, referred to as carcass A, that was found Wednesday was intact but open at the abdomen with evidence of feeding on the right flank. Examinations of two other dead calves from the same pasture, which had been buried but were unearthed, determined that wolves fed on the flank of carcass B, which was found Tuesday, while a third, carcass C, had been mostly consumed and probably died Monday.

Physical evidence indicated a struggle/kill scene for carcasses A and C, which included blood spray, and pooled blood. According to the report, “There was a trail of blood and rumen for 50 feet ending at carcass A. Carcass A was skinned and partially shaved, revealing numerous quarter-inch wide bite scrapes on both armpits, the hind legs above the hock, flanks and the groin. Deep underlying tissue damage with associated premortem hemorrhaging was evident under the bite wounds.

“Calves B and C were skinned, revealing premortem tissue trauma on the hind legs between the hock and anus, and behind the elbows. These injuries are clear evidence of predator attack and the size, location, and severity of bite injuries are similar to injuries observed on other calves attacked by wolves.

“Remote camera photographs,” the report says, “show Rogue Pack wolves 2.5 miles from the pasture on (Tuesday). The Rogue Pack has depredated on this property before. Since the evidence shows that each calf died on a different night, these are considered three separate incidents of depredation.”

Tuesday’s official attributed the killing of Roger Porterfield’s 675-pound calf to the Rogue Pack. Roger Nicholson said he had observed four wolves Thursday night in a nearby pasture. According to the report, “Observed premortem hemorrhaging and associated muscle tissue trauma are clear evidence of a predator attack and the size, severity, and location of the injuries are similar to injuries observed on other calves attacked by wolves.”

Details of the reports are available at the ODF&W Wolves and Livestock Updates website at http://dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/wolf_livestock_updates.asp.


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