Chronic Wolf Damage in Oregon
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s (ODFW) Wolves and Livestock Updates webpage provides information about each wolf depredation investigation, the actions taken by livestock producers to deter attacks by wolves, and the reasoning behind each lethal control action.
Wolf population expansion into new areas is often documented when depredations on livestock are confirmed by agency investigators, as occurred recently in Oregon.
It appears that Umatilla County may have a new pack of wolves, according to ODFW. Wildlife officials confirmed that one night in late September, a wolf pack had attacked seven 450-550-pound calves in a 200-acre private pasture. Three nights later, another 500-pound calf was killed and fed on.
“Tissue trauma associated with the tooth scrapes was up to 3 inches deep. Each injured calf was examined in a squeeze chute. The calves had numerous tooth scrapes up to 3/16 inch wide and 3-5 inches long on the hindquarters between the hocks and anus. The location, size, number, and direction of tooth scrapes and/or severity of associated tissue trauma is consistent with wolf attack injuries on calves.”
Wolf Attacks on Sheep Outfits in Union County, Oregon
ODFW reports a surplus kill event of domestic sheep by the Ukiah pack in July, and repeated depredations by the Balloon Tree wolf pack this fall, with confirmed injuries or kills to: 12 sheep (in one night); injuries to 2 livestock guardian dogs; and the death of 1 herding dog. These attacks took place on private land.
July 4: Confirmed 9 dead sheep
ODFW reported: “On the morning of 7/4/21, a herder notified a ranch hand that sheep had scattered from around their bedding area near his trailer the previous evening. That same morning, a member of the public found two dead ewes and one dead lamb on the same large, timbered private-land pasture and notified the ranch hand. The ranch hand found an additional three dead lambs, one dead ewe, and two injured lambs. One of the injured lambs was not relocated until 7/7/21. Of the dead sheep, one was mostly consumed, two were completely intact, two were mostly intact, and two were partially consumed. All animals were estimated to have been injured or killed on the evening of 7/3/21.
Physical evidence and summary of findings: “A GPS location from a radio-collared Ukiah wolf around the time of the sheep injuries and mortalities was within 150 yards of three of the sheep carcasses. Tracks of multiple wolves were also found near several of the carcasses. One injured lamb and one dead ewe were examined on site on 7/4/21, the remaining dead sheep were partially shaved/skinned and examined on 7/6/21. The dead sheep had pre-mortem tooth punctures up to 3/8” in diameter on the neck, throat, groin, and/or hindquarters. Associated hemorrhage and tissue trauma extended up to 2” deep. One injured lamb had an open bite wound on the backside of the right hindquarter above the hock with exposed tissue damage. The other injured lamb had a bite wound to the throat. All sheep had pre-mortem bite wounds indicating they were attacked by a predator. The size, location, and severity of wounds were consistent with wolf attacks on sheep. This depredation event is attributed to the Ukiah Pack.”
Sept. 30: Confirmed 12 dead ewes
ODFW reported: “On 9/29/21 an employee of a sheep producer found three adult ewes deceased in a large timbered private-land pasture. Upon arrival on 9/30/21, USDA Wildlife Services and ODFW found four additional dead ewes. Wildlife Services found three more dead ewes on 10/1/21 and one dead ewe on 10/4/21. One injured ewe was also found on 10/4/21. All animals were found in the same pasture. Eight ewes were fully intact with no feeding or scavenging present, and three were partially scavenged. The injured ewe was euthanized by Wildlife Services. The estimated time of injury or death for all twelve sheep was the night of 9/28/21.”
Physical evidence and summary of findings: “Seven sheep were examined on 9/30/21; three on 10/1/21, and two on 10/4/21. Most of the sheep were shaved and/or skinned, and all were examined. All sheep had pre-mortem wounds. Pre-mortem hemorrhage and/or tissue trauma up to 2 inches deep was found on the throats of eleven sheep. Pre-mortem hemorrhage and tissue trauma up to 2 inches deep was found on the hindquarters above the hocks of eight sheep. Tooth scrapes associated with these injuries were up to 3/16 inch wide, and a set of paired canine punctures had a spacing of 1 7/8 inches. The location, size, and severity of bite wounds are consistent with wolf attacks on sheep. This depredation event is attributed to the Balloon Tree Pack.”
Oct. 1: Confirmed 2 injured livestock guardian dogs
ODFW reported: “The morning of 10/1/21, a sheep herder found two injured Kangal guard dogs on an industrial timberland allotment. The herder reported that at approximately 2:00 a.m. on 10/1/21, he had heard a fight between his guard dog and an unknown predator(s) that included barking and growling. The injuries were estimated to have occurred the night of 9/30-10/1/21.”
Physical evidence and summary of findings: “Both dogs were examined. One dog had an approximately 6 inch long area of matted blood on the throat and left side of the neck, that was dripping blood onto its front leg. This dog was agitated and could not be restrained for further examination. The second dog had a bite puncture 1/4 inch in diameter on the inside of the front right leg near the elbow. It also had two 1/4-3/8 inch diameter bite marks with an associated 3/8 inch wide, 2 inch long tooth scrape on the inside of the upper right rear leg. The observed bite wounds are consistent with a predator attack. The size and location of wounds are similar to other wolf/livestock guarding dog conflict investigations. This depredation event is attributed to the Balloon Tree Pack.”
Oct. 5: Confirmed 1 dead herding dog
ODFW reported: “On the morning of 10/5/21 an employee for a sheep producer found a deceased 40 lb. adult male herding dog on a private industrial timberland pasture. The dog was intact with no scavenging. Estimated time of death was the early morning of 10/5/21.”
Physical evidence and summary of findings: “The carcass was shaved and skinned. Pre-mortem bite wounds were found on the hindquarters, front shoulders, back, right flank, neck, and head. Associated canine punctures were approximately 1/4 inch in diameter and depth of hemorrhage/tissue trauma was up to 2 inches. The size of canine punctures, depth of pre-mortem trauma, and location of injuries are similar to other confirmed wolf attacks on working dogs. This depredation is attributed to the Balloon Tree Pack.”