Gary Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (541) 962-8509
Phil Carroll, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (503) 231-6179
Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, (503) 947-6022
Rick Hargrave, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, (503) 947-6020
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed that a wolf or wolves were responsible for killing a number of lambs on two occasions between April 9 and April 13 on a privately owned ranch east of Baker City, Oregon.
“We’ve been working since this weekend with the rancher and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and others to help the rancher avoid any more incidents like these,” said Gary Miller, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s La Grande office. “The rancher has taken useful steps already, and I’ve received fladry (electric fence with flagging) from Defenders of Wildlife. We’ll take that to the ranch to discourage further attacks,” he said.
Federal and state agency biologists are now attempting to catch one or more wolves in the area, to fit them with radio transmitting collars and collect blood samples before the wolves are released. The collars transmit unique radio frequencies so the wolves can be monitored in their movements following release. Monitoring will help confirm how many animals are involved, and whether a pack has taken up residence in the area. The information will help inform agency and landowner efforts to discourage further depredation.
Gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, an area that includes the eastern third of Oregon (east of a line down highways 395, 78 and 95), are scheduled to come off the federal Endangered Species Act list on May 4, 2009. Wolves will remain listed as endangered by the State of Oregon until other conditions specified in state law are met. After May 4, wolves west of the boundary will remain listed by both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.
For now, although all partners are working together, any final decisions on how to respond to this or further depredations are the responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Defenders of Wildlife, a non-government organization which has offered compensation to landowners for wolf depredations for years, has verified that its compensation program will extend to Oregon as long as the wolf remains federally listed here. This landowner and others with verified wolf depredation on livestock can receive full market value for what the livestock would have sold for at full-grown market weight. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will provide the landowner with information if he chooses to pursue compensation through this program. Landowners can apply directly to Defenders of Wildlife for information at:
The non-lethal methods of discouraging wolves from killing livestock have sometimes been used effectively in Idaho and elsewhere in areas with much larger wolf populations. Electric fence with flagging (fladry) and devices called “RAG boxes” (for Radio Activated Guard boxes) can be located on or near livestock enclosures. The boxes sound off with loud human voices, vehicle sounds and recorded gunshot sounds at the approach of an active radio collar – another reason that any wolves captured now will be collared.
Experts have long predicted that wolves from the expanding Idaho population would continue to cross the Snake River and enter Oregon. Biologists have been investigating evidence of wolves in northeast Oregon for several years. Since November 2007 signs of wolves have been observed within a few miles of this area, and biologists have been conducting surveys.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials remind the public it is illegal to shoot a wolf, even one mistaken for another animal such as a coyote. Any gray wolf in Oregon is currently listed as an endangered species under both state and federal law. Killing an animal protected under the federal Endangered Species Act is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail, or both. Killing a wolf is also a violation of Oregon state game law, with fines and penalties that are assessed by the court.
Individuals who see a wolf, or suspect or discover wolf activity are asked to immediately contact one of the following:
Wolf sightings can also be reported online through ODFW’s wolf Web site: www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/
Oregon has a Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, created with extensive, state-wide public input and collaboration, which was adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2005. More information on wolves and wolf management in Oregon is available on the website: www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov