Lookout Mountain wolf

A trail cam photo from May 30, 2021, of one of the two yearling wolves in the Lookout Mountain pack.

Employees from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, firing rifles from a helicopter, shot and killed two wolf pups from the Lookout Mountain pack on Sunday, Aug. 1.

On Thursday, July 29, the agency’s director authorized either ODFW employees, or a Baker County ranching couple or their designated agents, to kill up to four sub-adult wolves from that pack, which has attacked their cattle at least four times since mid-July.

The Lookout Mountain wolves have killed two animals and injured two others, according to ODFW investigations.

The two wolves killed Sunday are 3 1/2-month-old pups, according to Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokesperson.

The agency confirmed earlier this year that the pack’s breeding female and male — neither of which can be killed under the permit issued Thursday — produced a litter of seven pups this year.

During the helicopter flight on Sunday, ODFW employees saw at least five pups and the two adult, Dennehy said. They didn’t see either of the two yearlings wolves, which were born in the spring of 2020.

ODFW employees and the ranchers, Deward and Kathy Thompson, also tried to find the wolves on Friday, July 30, but they saw only the two adult wolves, both of which have tracking collars.

The permit issued Thursday is valid through Aug. 21, or until up to four wolves have been killed, whichever happens first.

Dennehy said the permit is intended to stop chronic attacks by wolves on livestocks “by reducing the pack’s food needs and disrupting the pack’s behavior so they don’t associate livestock with an easy meal.”

Baker County Commissioner Mark Bennett requested the kill permit on Tuesday, July 27. Bennett, who is chairman of the county’s wolf committee, included with his request to ODFW a letter from the Thompsons. They wrote that the attacks on their cattle started this spring after the Lookout Mountain pack’s latest, and so far largest, litter of pups was born.

“Killing pups is not something we want to be doing,” Dennehy wrote to the Herald. “But in this case, despite nonlethal measures, chronic depredation continues which we have a responsibility to address. We hope to avoid killing the breeding male and female, so that the pack persists and the remaining pups still have two experienced hunters to provision them. Killing the breeding male or female increases the chance that the pack will break up.

“Reducing the caloric needs of the pack reduces the amount of killing they need to do in order to feed the pups. The Lookout Pack had at least seven pups this spring and late summer is a lean time for wolves. With two pups removed there is less need for meat for the pups.”

The group Defenders of Wildlife decried ODFW's actions.

“We are enraged by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s aggressive action to kill vulnerable 14-week-old gray wolf pups in response to livestock conflict," said Sristi Kamal, senior representative for the Northwest Program at Defenders of Wildlife. "The use of lethal measures is never a long-term solution to depredations and killing pups is simply unacceptable. Defenders will continue to work with livestock producers to help implement proactive non-lethal practices and strategic grazing practices. It is possible for people and wolves to share the same land and ODFW must step up to their role to facilitate coexistence. They can, and they must."

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