SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Fish & Wildlife staff killed two wolf pups in the northeastern part of the state this week, a response to the wolf pack's chronic killing of livestock at a Baker County ranch.
Wolves from the Lookout Mountain Pack were implicated in the death or injury of four cows within a 14-day period. Three of the cows were yearlings of more than 850 pounds. ODFW agreed that the kills represented chronic depredation, presenting a "significant risk" to livestock.
Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
The state wildlife agency issued a permit to the livestock producer at the end of July, allowing them kill up to four uncollared wolves within a designated area. ODFW noted at the time that state staff can kill wolves to assist the rancher.
On Sunday, ODFW staff went up in a helicopter and shot two of the pack's seven pups, killing none of the older wolves. Prior to the kill permit, the Lookout Mountain Pack consisted of two breeding adults, two uncollared yearling wolves, and seven pups.
In a statement released Wednesday, Congressman Peter DeFazio condemned the wolf pup killings and called for the Biden administration to restore Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf that were jettisoned during the Trump era.
"The state of Oregon killed two 3-month-old wolf pups under the irrational premise that it would somehow lessen the food needs of the pack. Wolf pups are no threat to livestock,” said Rep. DeFazio. “Nearly 80 years after a federal extermination campaign nearly wiped out the species, I will not sit by and allow the re-implementation of cruel, inhumane, and unscientific policies that degrade local ecosystems. I have called on Interior Secretary Haaland to expeditiously relist the Gray Wolf under the Endangered Species Act to prevent their likely extinction.”
Michelle Dennehy, Communications Coordinator for ODFW, told NewsWatch 12 that killing the pups helps to reduce the food need of the pack, and disrupts its pattern of behavior toward targeting livestock for food. The rancher still has the license to kill two more uncollared wolves, if needed, through August 21.
ODFW noted that the livestock producers in the area had been using non-lethal means to deter wolves for years, and stepped up their efforts when the first depredation happened. The Lookout Mountain wolves are a relatively new presence in the area, and were first documented in 2019.
In prior years, the Rogue Pack wolves of southern Oregon easily topped ODFW's depredation reports — accounting for the majority of livestock kills in 2020 despite comprising less than 13 percent of the total wolf population.
Wolves in western Oregon were shielded from lethal countermeasures up until the federal delisting earlier this year. None of the Rogue wolves have yet been killed in response to depredation, but livestock deaths attributed to wolves in southern Oregon appear to have dropped off almost entirely since the beginning of 2021.