BEND, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon's state wolf coordinator has warned Bend-area ranchers to prepare for a rapid expansion of the state's wolf population.
The wolves make their way into the state from Idaho. They were eradicated in Oregon in the 1940s.
"I think we are on the tip of a fairly rapid population expansion," said Russ Morgan, state wolf coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
At a panel on Friday, Eastern Oregon ranchers long familiar with wolf predation on cattle complained that they are prohibited from killing wolves and say nonlethal prevention measures are ineffective, the Bend Bulletin reported (http://bit.ly/Qx5il4 ).
Todd Nash, a rancher from Enterprise and vocal advocate for killing wolves said wolves likely killed two head of cattle this year. This is the third year he's dealt with wolf attacks on his cattle.
Nash has been a prominent voice among Wallowa County ranchers opposed to wolves returning to Oregon. He said he's hired a range rider to help protect his herd of 650 animals, but such nonlethal methods don't compare with killing wolves to stop predation.
"A dead wolf isn't going to kill my cattle," Nash said.
Wolves are listed as an endangered species by the state throughout Oregon and are also federally listed as endangered in the western two thirds of the state.
Nonlethal methods will be costly to ranchers, said Galen Wunsch, a rancher on the C Lazy K Ranch between Madras and Prineville, and a member of the Jefferson County wolf committee.
"As a producer I have to spend more money to protect the livestock," he said.
Two wolves have already trekked through Central Oregon. One of them, OR-7, became the state's most famous canine while his movements were tracked via a GPS-enabled collar.
OR-7 was in Northern California earlier this week.
Ranchers in Central Oregon are bracing for the arrival of wolf packs. The forum was designed to give them an idea of how to protect livestock with advice from Eastern Oregon.
"This is something we have to figure out," said Seth Crawford, a Crook County commissioner, "before they get here."
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com
Copyright 2012 The AP.