No wolf attacks on cattle have been reported in the Lookout Mountain country of eastern Baker County since state wildlife workers shot and killed three wolves from the Lookout Mountain pack, including the breeding male, on Sept. 17.
But wolves have killed cattle elsewhere in Northeastern Oregon during the past two weeks, including in Baker County.
In the Ukiah area of Umatilla County, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has authorized a rancher, or the rancher’s designated agent, to kill up to two wolves on the rancher’s property.
The lethal take permit expires Oct. 31, when two wolves have been killed, or when the rancher’s cattle are moved from that area, whichever happens first.
ODFW biologists confirmed two separate attacks by wolves on private land in Ukiah Valley, one on Sept. 25, the other on Sept. 28.
Three calves died and five others were injured, according to ODFW. The calves were all about six months old and weighed between 450 and 550 pounds.
ODFW biologists also confirmed that wolves killed a 400-pound calf on a public land grazing pasture in the southern Wallowa Mountains near Eagle Creek on Sept. 28.
According to an ODFW report, a hunter found the calf’s carcass on the morning of Sept. 28 near the Amalgamated Mine, along Paddy Creek about 17 miles northwest of Richland.
ODFW biologists examined the carcass and found more than 30 pre-mortem parallel tooth scrapes on the outside and back of the calf’s left hind leg above the hock, as well as similarly sized tooth scrapes on the right hind leg.
“The location, size, number and direction of tooth scrapes are consistent with wolf attack injuries on calves,” according to the report.
Biologists estimated the calf was killed early on Sept. 28, and they attributed the attack to the Keating wolf pack.
Wolves from the Keating pack killed a pair of two-month-old calves north of Keating Valley in late April 2021, and they killed a calf in late May in the same area.
The Keating pack consists of eight wolves, according to the annual wolf report ODFW released in April.
The pack had at least two pups in the spring of 2020 that survived through the end of that year.
Ukiah area investigation
ODFW officials are trying to determine which wolf pack is responsible for the attacks on calves in the Ukiah area.
The calves were attacked in an area that’s not designated as part of the range of any pack, or that has other known wolf activity, according to ODFW.
However, the attacks happened less than two miles from the approximate range of the Fivemile pack, and ODFW biologists believe it’s possible that wolves from that pack have expanded their territory.
The agency has also received reports from the public about multiple wolves about 10 miles southeast of where the calves were attacked. It’s not clear whether those wolves are a new, unidentified pack.
The Ukiah pack was not in the area where the calves were attacked, according to data from tracking collars on wolves in that pack.
Rodger Huffman, a Union County rancher and co-chairman of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association wolf committee, said both the organization and the rancher who owned the calves, are asking Fish and Wildlife to kill members of the offending pack to deter further wolf-livestock conflicts in the area.
Under the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, wolves in Eastern Oregon may be subject to lethal control if they have two confirmed depredations within nine months.
That plan authorized ODFW workers to kill the three wolves from the Lookout Mountain pack on Sept. 17. ODFW employees shot and killed two pups from that pack on Aug. 1.
Wolves from the Lookout Mountain pack have killed at least six head of cattle, and injured three others, since mid July.
George Plaven of the Capital Press contributed to this story.