The Umatilla River wolf pack is responsible for a pair of recent attacks on livestock in the Wildhorse Road area southeast of Weston, according to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Both incidents were reported within days of each other, occurring on private land located less than a mile apart. ODFW investigated and confirmed the losses were, in fact, caused by wolves.
On June 11, a rancher found one of his cows injured in a timbered pasture where the Umatilla River pack is known to roam. GPS collar data shows at least two wolves were present in the pasture just a few days earlier.
It is the first confirmed predation of a cow by the Umatilla River pack. Biologists were not immediately sure whether the cow would survive.
Two days later, a different livestock producer found six dead sheep in the same pen where ODFW previously confirmed Umatilla River wolves had preyed on the animals in 2012. In addition, six more sheep were injured and one lamb was reported missing.
In all cases, bite wounds to livestock were consistent with a wolf attack, according to the ODFW investigation.
The department will now look into whether these count as qualifying incidents toward lethal control of the pack. A rancher must be using non-lethal wolf deterrents for at least seven days leading up to the event in order to qualify.
It takes four qualifying incidents within a six-month period before wildlife officials can go ahead with lethal take.
Last month, Umatilla County received a total of $39,675 for 2014 from the Oregon Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance County Block Grant Program, administered by the state Department of Agriculture. The bulk of the grant $35,000 went to pay for those non-lethal tools designed to keep wolves away from livestock, such as fladry fencing or range riders.
In all, the state awarded $150,830 spread across eight counties. Umatilla County received the second-largest amount, behind Wallowa County, which received $65,253.
Local wolf depredation advisory committees are appointed to handle those grant funds in each county.
Contact George Plaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4547.