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Cause of calf killings unknown

Published on November 19, 2010 3:01AM

Last changed on December 17, 2010 7:40AM


Capital Press

Federal and state wildlife biologists don't believe wolves had a role in the deaths of two calves earlier this month at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center's Union Station, but they aren't ruling out the possibility.

The 600-plus pound calves died of respiratory disease, according to John Stephenson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services wolf coordinator for Oregon. Stephenson said it is likely a scare from a predator induced the respiratory failure.

"It is possible (the calves) were harassed and possibly attacked," he said.

Wounds on the calves, however, "were not wounds that would have killed a big calf," Stephenson said.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator Russ Morgan said he spent a day in the area looking for signs of wolves, but could find none.

And Stephenson said scavenging patterns on the calves did not point to wolves. Wolves typically scavenge from the abdomen. The calves were scavenged from the rear, typical of smaller animals, Stephenson said.

The service lists the official cause of death as "possible/unknown."

"There is no evidence of wolves in the area," Stephenson said. "It's possible some could have wandered over there. You can't rule it out. We just don't know what caused the situation.We know bears and cougars are in that country."

Livestock managers at the farm and USDA Wildlife Services agents reported cows at the station were traumatized in the days following the apparent attack.


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