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Environment, Energy and Transportation

New Livestock Killing Linked to Rogue Wolf Pack

RoguePack_pups_7-12-16_2_USFWS.jpg
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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Summer 2016 pup surveys by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ODFW confirmed at least two pups for the Rogue Pack this year. These images were caught on remote cameras in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest on July 12, 2016.

The number of ranch animal depredations in the Rogue Pack's territory in Southern Oregon is trending higher than previous years.

There’s been another attack on livestock linked to the wolves in Southern Oregon’s so-called Rogue Pack. Killings by this pack have resulted in the death of eight ranch animals so far this year. The most recent kill was discovered on August 16th.

Sristi Kamal, with the conservation group Defense of Wildlife, notes that the current year’s case total has ticked up from last year.

"There has been a slight increase in the number of cases, and we’re not fully through this season yet. But looking at the numbers so far I would say that it’s been a little bit higher for Rogue Pack."

The total for all of 2019 was seven, and losses for the 2020 season will continue to tally until October.

Ranchers with confirmed wolf-kill losses are eligible for compensation through a statewide fund managed by the Department of Agriculture. The four adults wolves and one pup that make up the Rogue pack range in a territory that spreads from eastern Jackson County into western Klamath County.

As a protected species under the federal Endangered Species Act, only non-lethal methods, such as bright lights, loud noises, and human presence, can be used to deter these attacks. Steve Niemela, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says lethal options are available if the killings by this pack escalate beyond a certain level.

"We do have procedures in there for when wolves are declared to be a chronic depredating pack and can be lethally removed," he says. "We’re still doing all the monitoring and non-lethal things, and all the things in our wolf plan, but … that tool isn’t on the table right now."

Lethal removal can only be approved at the federal level, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and only after non-lethal practices have demonstrated to be ineffective at reducing incidents. Niemela says ODFW would always attempt to target individual animals for lethal removal, instead of an entire pack, as a first step.

According to the ODFW, the most recent statewide wolf count is at 158, a 15 percent increase over last year.