By Katy Nesbitt
The (La Grande) Observer
ENTERPRISE - A Wallowa County calf found Thursday afternoon was confirmed Friday morning to have been wounded by wolves.
The calf might have to be euthanized later today due to the extent of its injuries.
Luke Morgan of the Grouse Creek Ranch said he moved cattle about a mile up a road near the Imnaha River between noon and 1 p.m. Thursday. About 5 p.m. a calf came back to his cow camp bawling and injured with his mother cow behind him, said Rod Childers, Oregon Cattlemen's Association wolf committee chairman.
Within an hour the calf, which was wounded on its back legs, was investigated by both a USDA Wildlife Service's agent and an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist. They agreed that the injuries were wolf-caused.
The calf was injured mid-day, which is unusual for experienced, adult wolves.
Scott Shear, supervisor of the range rider program, said that Grouse Creek, Lick Creek, and adjacent, forested areas are regularly patrolled as well as the edges of the Wallowa Valley.
It is unknown if the Imnaha pack,implicated in cattle deaths on the Grouse Creek Ranch last winter, was in the vicinity at the time of the wounding because radio collar information is not yet available, said Bruce Eddy, Fish and Wildlife Northeast Oregon Region Manager. There are other, uncollared, yet documented wolves nearby, including the Snake River pack.
Eddy said while downloads from the Imnaha pack's alpha male's global positioning collar aren't always immediately available for the livestock producers, the department is looking into additional aid that can be provided to them.
Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen was not available to go on the investigation, but he has been briefed.
Steen said, "Half the West is burning up, Harney County has been devastated by fire, there is drought in the Midwest, corn prices are through the roof, cattle prices are taking a hit andndash; all we need is another predator in the midst to damage agriculture production."