This news, sent in a press release at 6 p.m. Friday, caught me off-guard.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated another livestock depredation in Northeast Oregon on Thursday.
The dead calf showed the telltale signs of a wolf attack, and a tracking collar shows the alpha male of the Imnaha pack was at the scene last week. ODFW confirmed the wolf attack and on Friday announced plans to kill two Imnaha wolves – including the alpha male, seen in the photo to the left.
Another uncollared wolf in the pack will also be targeted, ODFW reports. Killing two wolves will mean there are only two wolves left in the Imnaha pack (see photo below): The alpha female and a pup born this spring.
“Today’s decision was not made lightly,” said ODFW Director Roy Elicker. “We’re working hard to conserve wolves in Oregon, yet be sensitive to the losses suffered by livestock owners.”
Rob Klavins, a wolf advocate with Oregon Wild, said he's disappointed the state is still moving to kill wolves so quickly now that there is a compensation program to reimburse ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.
"Oregonians will now be footing the bill for both Todd Nash's cow and the killing of most of what remains of Oregon's first wolf pack leaving behind a single pup and the alpha female to fend for themselves," Klavins said in an e-mailed response.
In the past 18 months, state and federal agencies have confirmed 14 livestock losses to the Imnaha pack. ODFW or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed seven losses this year (two in February, and on April 30, May 4 and 17, June 5, and Sept. 22) and seven last year.
And officials are noticing a pattern in the wolf attacks. In both 2010 and 2011, wolves killed livestock April through early June and then again in September. Two other livestock losses this year, including one on Sept. 7, were determined to be "probable" kills by Imnaha wolves.
ODFW already killed two wolves from the Imnaha pack earlier this year, after four confirmed livestock losses this spring 2011. The state's wolf management plan allows ODFW to kill wolves after "chronic" livestock depredation.
Thursday's investigation revealed that a large spring calf had been dead less than two days, but it was almost completely consumed, which suggests the entire pack had fed on it. ODFW reported Friday that the depredation happened in the same area near Joseph where wolf kills were confirmed in May and June, even though landowners have been using non-lethal measures to deter wolf-livestock interactions.