Wolves from the Lookout Mountain pack in eastern Baker County consumed a recently born calf last week near Pritchard Creek, north of Durkee, but state wildlife biologists couldn’t determine whether the wolves actually killed the animal.
There was no blood, hide or muscle tissue, and nothing left of the calf but the front incisors and two parts of the jawbone, which made a definite conclusion about the cause of death impossible, said Brian Ratliff, district wildlife biologist at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) Baker City office.
There were tracks in the area from an adult cow and from multiple wolves, and matted down vegetation indicating some sort of “altercation” took place, Ratliff said.
The incident is listed as a possible/unknown wolf depredation.
The Lookout Mountain pack consists of a male and female adult wolf, and two pups that were born in the spring of 2020, Ratliff said.
Both the adults have tracking collars.
On Tuesday, March 16, ODFW received a signal from the GPS collar fitted to the female adult wolf, which has black fur, showing the animal was in the Pritchard Creek area, Ratliff said.
ODFW notified a rancher who has cattle in the area.
The rancher found the remains of the calf on the evening of Wednesday, March 17, Ratliff said.
According to an ODFW report, the rancher reported that his cattle were “stirred up” on the morning of March 16, and that he saw a black, radio-collared wolf carrying a leg bone on the evening of March 17.
The site where the teeth and bones were found is north of Interstate 84 in the Durkee Valley area, on public land adjacent to a large private pasture. Ratliff said cattle are scattered on both private and public land in the area, which is about 20 miles east of Baker City.
Ratliff said on Friday, March 19 that based on signals from the collars, the adult female wolf was in the area where the teeth and bones were found at 10 p.m. on March 16 and at 6 a.m. on March 17. Signals later in the week showed that the wolves have remained in the general area, he said.
Ratliff said ranchers who have cattle in the area are aware of the wolves’ presence, and Ratliff said he has suggested they take precautions such as ensuring the cattle are in groups, which can help protect them from wolves and other predators.