Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:27 AM
By JOSEPH DITZLER
PENDLETON, Ore. -- A weekend wolf attack killed one ram and injured three others, one later euthanized, on Weston Mountain not far from the site of a similar wolf attack two weeks ago, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
It was the second wolf attack on livestock in Umatilla County since the animals reappeared in Oregon. The incident took place late Friday or early Saturday, department spokeswoman Meg Kenagy said Tuesday. The sheep owner discovered the scene Saturday morning.
The attack on penned rams took place about eight miles from the site where a wolf killed two ewes and two lambs, also penned, and possibly dragged away a third overnight May 1 and May 2.
The wounds inflicted on the dead ram were consistent with a wolf attack, said Umatilla District wildlife biologist Mark Kirsch.
"It had pre-mortem hemorrhaging associated with a taller predator attack, and the bite and location were consistent with what wolves have done in the past, as opposed to bears or cougars,"?Kirsch said Tuesday.
Tracks in the area indicated a wolf, but wildlife investigators could not determine whether one or more, he said.
The department set rubber-lined leg traps to capture the wolf believed responsible for the attack May 2 but have had no luck thus far, Kirsch said. The department plans to capture and collar the animal for tracking purposes.
The wildlife department knows of two wolves, believed to be a male and female, frequenting the Mount Emily Wildlife Management Unit. The pair have not produced a litter and so are not considered a breeding pair; neither are they considered a pack, defined by the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan as "a group of four or more wolves traveling together in winter." The wildlife department does not consider the Mount Emily pair part of any of the four established packs, all in northeastern Oregon. The department counts 29 wolves in the state but acknowledges there are others.
In another development Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person that killed a wolf in March near Cove.
Fish and wildlife troopers of the Oregon State Police investigated the discovery March 16 on private property of a carcass authorities believe is a wolf. A necropsy discovered the animal was killed illegally, state police have reported. Police have not described how the 97-pound animal, dead about a week when found by walkers, was killed.
Authorities with the fish and wildlife department and the state police said they believe the animal was a wolf, although a definitive genetic test is pending at an Idaho Department of Fish and Game lab.
State police accepted the society offer to post a reward, said Elise Traub, director of the society's wildlife abuse campaign. The society, in conjunction with other wildlife conservation groups, offered a reward for an illegally killed Oregon wolf in September 2010, she said.
That reward went uncollected. Odds are slim this reward will be claimed, either. Of the 15 cases of poached wolves around the nation in which the society has offered rewards, "none of them have been solved, to my knowledge,"?she said.
Traub quoted state wildlife agencies in California and Nevada, for example, where authorities estimate they discover only 1-5 percent of all the cases of illegally killed wildlife in their states.
Wolves are considered endangered under Oregon law and west of U.S. Route 395, generally, are also protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Killing a wolf without a state-issued permit or in self defense is a misdemeanor in Oregon, punishable by a year in jail and a maximum $6,250 fine.
The fish and wildlife department is barred from killing predatory wolves, a remedy listed in the state wolf plan, by an appellate court order issued in October 2011. The court temporarily stopped the practice of eliminating wolves that kill more than two livestock animals after three conservation groups filed suit. The three groups allege the state is too quick to condemn problem wolves, and killing the animals runs counter to state goals for re-establishing the species. Wolves have killed 58 confirmed livestock animals in Oregon since 2009, according to the fish and wildlife department.
The stay remains in effect until the case is resolved. First briefs in the case were due this month.
Ranchers decried the stay, pointing out that wolves continue to prey on livestock while the case is pending. Wolves are most active in Wallowa County where the Imnaha pack has killed about eight livestock animals since October 2011.