Oregon wolf 1

A female member of the Wenaha Pack in northern Wallowa County, Ore.

The good news is the wolf population continues to grow and spread across Oregon. The population grew 9.5% last year to at least 173 wolves in 22 packs. In 2019, the population grew 15%, according to the department.

The bad news is ranchers — particularly those in Klamath County — struggle as wolves continue to attack their livestock at will.

That’s the short version of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 2020 wolf report, which was issued last week.

Of particular concern to ranchers are the continued attacks on livestock. Despite ranchers’ use of non-lethal means in attempts to keep their livestock safe, state biologists confirmed 31 attacks last year.

Even more troubling: the three wolves in the Rogue Pack were responsible for more than half of those attacks, killing 16 yearling cows in Klamath and Jackson counties.

That’s in spite of the fact that biologists and staff from ODFW, USDA Wildlife Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent 99 nights last year trying to keep Rogue Pack wolves away from livestock using non-lethal means.

This is the second straight year that the number of confirmed depredations in Klamath County due to the Rogue Pack has exceeded all other depredations elsewhere in the state, according to ODFW.

Statewide, wildlife managers did not remove any of the problem wolves, though a rancher did legally shoot one as it attacked his livestock. Four other wolves were illegally killed.

Meanwhile, the state paid $30,609 to ranchers who had dead, injured or missing livestock and spent $217,000 on non-lethal preventive measures trying to keep wolves away from cattle.

What’s apparent in reading this report is wolves in Oregon need to be better managed. In Klamath, Jackson, Baker, Union and Umatilla counties, they continue to cost ranchers — and the state — many thousands of dollars with no resolution of the problems they cause.

The wolf population has clearly reached a critical mass. The time has come to remove the small minority of wolves that create the vast majority of problems.

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