Today, April 9th, 2018, one of our volunteers with Protect the Wolves contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Game. We tried to get answers about the recent depredations of three calves by wolves in Baker County but they would not say much and we were referred to Wildlife Communications Director Michelle Dennehy.
Dennehy said there would be a news release soon and we should wait for that. However, we politely insisted on more information and the importance of transparency since nothing was posted on the ODFW website about the incident. So we were told that they were trying to work with the producer by using deterrents but lethal removals had been requested.
We were not told if the Baker County livestock producer, Chad DelCurto even had deterrents set up before turning his cows out. It’s really too early to turn cows out with new calves but ranchers can do anytime when it’s on private land. We were told that it’s on private property he is leasing. They should certainly not be out at night when most depredations occur. There are dozens of options and non-lethal methods are a must.
Oregon has approximately 1,297,945 cattle, and 214,613 sheep within its borders. Compare that to only about 112 wolves.
Most of Oregon’s cattle producers want wolves exterminated and want it done immediately— which is great cause for concern!
In the article from Baker City Herald published today read:
A pack of wolves has killed at least three calves since Thursday night in eastern Baker County, and the rancher involved is calling for state wildlife officials to kill all eight wolves in the pack.
“I would like to see the whole pack annihilated,” Chad DelCurto said this morning. “If a pack is killing livestock, you’ve got to kill every one of them that has been involved in that.”
DelCurto said he turned out 130 cow-calf pairs late last week in the Sheep Mountain area southeast of Halfway.
Within 48 hours, he said, wolves had killed three calves. Seven others were either injured or are missing, DelCurto said.
He has asked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to kill the wolves, but an agency decision is pending.
DelCurto said he learned about the wolf attacks when a Halfway resident who was scouting for wild turkeys in the area saw wolves attacking DelCurto’s cattle.
“It was just dumb luck that we knew what was going on,” he said.
The man took video of the wolves, DelCurto said.
During the weekend two ODFW biologists from the Baker City office, Justin Primus and Phillip Perrine, investigated the wolf attacks and also worked to drive the wolves away from the cattle, said Brian Ratliff, district wildlife biologist at the Baker City office.
ODFW also used a helicopter to try to scare the wolves away, Ratliff said this morning.
The tactics have not been effective, DelCurto said.
“The wolves have been in there every day,” he said.
The Pine Creek wolf pack consists of three adults and five pups that were born in the spring of 2017, Ratliff said.
The pack, which has roamed in the Sheep Mountain area in the past couple years, probably was in the area during the winter because herds of elk, a favorite prey of wolves, shelter there during that season, Ratliff said.
The Pine Creek pack’s alpha male was ousted last fall by the alpha male from the Harl Butte pack in Wallowa County. The Pine Creek pack’s former alpha male then migrated to Idaho, where it was legally killed by a hunter this winter, Ratliff said.
The Harl Butte pack killed three cattle and injured four others in Wallowa County during 2016 and 2017. That prompted ODFW to kill four wolves from the pack last summer. The agency didn’t kill the Harl Butte pack’s alpha male, however, in part because it’s the only wolf in that pack that has a working tracking collar, Ratliff said.
Oregon’s wolf management plan allows livestock owners or their designated agents to kill wolves that are in the act of harassing or attacking livestock, Ratliff said.
DelCurto said there were two opportunities to shoot at wolves during the weekend but he was told not to do so.
“This whole thing is a screwed up mess,” he said.
In an email to the Baker City Herald this morning, Michelle Dennehy, a spokesperson for ODFW, wrote that “ODFW is continuing to investigate the situation and working with the producer using non-lethal measures to stop the losses.”
Politely ask ODFW Director Curt Melcher and Michelle Dennehy, Wildlife Communications Coordinator that the public insists non-lethal methods ONLY.
Our wildlife has to be protected and all the wolf killing states need to be taken to court! Not only can we use the Indian Trust, but the Public Trust as well. The Public Trust doctrine understood as establishing a legal obligation for states to conserve species for the benefit of their citizens. However, for the wildlife trust to act as a check against interests that promote exploitation over conservation, courts must use the doctrine to hold states accountable rather than grant excessive deference to management agencies. This is why we need help from everyone that cares about the lives of these wolves so we can take some of these states to court before it’s too late!