An attack on a calf in late October is the second strike against the Snake River wolf pack in northeastern Oregon’s Wallowa County.
In this case, however, the pack gets four strikes. Under Oregon’s gray wolf management rules, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can consider lethal control in situations of “chronic livestock depredation.” One of the conditions is that a pack must have committed four confirmed and “qualifying” attacks on livestock within six months.
The Snake River pack has two, both on cattle grazing on U.S. Forest Service land in the Freezeout Saddle area and within 1.5 miles of each other.
On Oct. 15, a rancher discovered a 250-pound calf badly injured from what were determined to be wolf bites. It later died. In the same area the previous day, the rancher had seen a cow running down a forested hillside and four wolves behind her. The rancher hazed the wolves out of sight.
The second calf was discovered Oct. 30 and is believed to have been attacked between Oct. 19-23. It also sustained severe bite wounds, including a 4-inch wide hole in the muscle tissue of its right flank and similar large, open wounds on the back of both legs, Although alive when found, it’s unclear whether it survived.
Wildlife managers have killed four wolves since the endangered predators entered Oregon from Idaho in 1999. Two were shot in Baker County in 2009 after 29 animals, mostly sheep, were killed in a series of attacks; and two in Wallowa County in 2011 after half a dozen head of cattle were killed in multiple incidents.
Two other Oregon packs have one qualifying incident each this year: the Umatilla River pack for a June 3 attack, and the Imnaha pack for an Aug. 21 attack.