Oregon officials approved Thursday the killing of two wolves in a new pack that they said have been attacking calves in the northeastern part of the state.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it would allow the landowner or potentially USDA Wildlife Services to shoot the wolves on the private land where the attacks happened, east of Union.
Three attacks that killed five calves on private pastures were confirmed by the agency on Dec. 25, Dec. 29, and Jan. 10. That level of depredation meets the definition of chronic livestock depredation under the state's Wolf Plan rules, which defines it as a minimum of two confirmed depredations in nine months.
Fish and Wildlife officials can approve the killing of wolves in chronic depredation situations when significant risk to livestock continues and nonlethal preventative measures have been used.
During one attack, the state said the livestock producer saw wolves standing over a dead calf but couldn't shoot them because it's not allowed to unless the wolves are caught while attacking. Sometimes wolves are found scavenging on dead livestock they did not kill, officials said.
This permit, which will be valid through mid-March, will allow the livestock owner to shoot wolves that get close to livestock.
The producer had increased human presence, fed livestock later to concentrate them overnight, moved calves to a more secure pasture, and used lights and noise to deter the wolves, according to Fish and Wildlife officials. After the second depredation, they also used flashing lights and moved the calves again, officials said.
Fish and Wildlife employees also searched the immediate area for carcasses or other items that could attract wolves and found none, officials said. The livestock producer will continue to use nonlethal measures to reduce conflict.
In November, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed an adult male wolf in the southeast corner of the state after the agency said a newly formed pack had attacked cattle. Wildlife advocates have been critical of state policies allowing for lethal removal.
Wolves in eastern Washington and Oregon also have been illegally killed in recent years, mostly by poisoning, and the states have sought help from the public to find those responsible.
There were a minimum of 173 wolves in Oregon in 2021, according to an annual survey done by state and tribal biologists. Washington had about 206 wolves while Idaho had about 1,500 at the time.