Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Fish and Wildlife Service Confirms Sheep Depredation Near Baker City caused by a Wolf or Wolves

April 15, 2009


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

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:

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: