HomeOutdoorsNewsOregon Wolf Hunt Begins After 5 Calves Confirmed Killed By ‘New Pack’

Oregon Wolf Hunt Begins After 5 Calves Confirmed Killed By ‘New Pack’

by Jon D. B.
Wolf, Canis lupus, Minnesota, North America. (Photo by: David Tipling/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Five calves have been killed by wolves on private pastures in a matter of weeks. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is doing something about it.

Culling the endangered gray wolf is a thorny subject no matter which way you approach it. But on Thursday, Jan. 12, state officials would approve the hunting and killing of two wolves in a “new pack” they have identified as the culprits. Three separate attacks have left five calves dead in northeastern Oregon pastures. ODFW recognizes the incidents as a rapid behavioral pattern, and will now allow either the cattle owner or the USDA Wildlife Services to shoot the wolves, as local KOMO reports.

Such measures are only taken after non-lethal preventative measures have been utilized, and a specific pack of wolves can be identified as the culprit(s). This was the case, as ODFW confirmed on Dec. 25 and 29, then Jan. 10 of this year. This met the definition of “chronic livestock depredation” under Oregon’s Wolf Plan rules, which states a minimum of two confirmed depredations in a nine month period. And so the hunt begins.

According to the state, Fish and Wildlife officials can only approve the killing of wolves in chronic depredation situations. This means a “significant risk to livestock” must be present and continuing, which certainly fits this scenario.

‘Significant Risk’ to Calves Instates Oregon Wolf Hunt

On one occasion, the landowner witnessed wolves standing over one of his calves as it lie dead. State laws prohibit shooting a wolf in this scenario, however. The wolves have to be caught in the act of attacking for a landowner to avoid steep legal penalties for killing the endangered species. This is, in the end the only way to prevent the killing of wolves that were simply scavenging dead livestock. Cougars, black bears, and coyotes also call Oregon home, and each species can and will take down livestock, too.

With wolves as the culprit, a permit now exists that’s valid through mid-march, KOMO cites. If a wolf comes close to livestock on the same lands, the owner now has full permission to kill. The landowner isn’t overly-eager to cull wolves, either. After the first attack, they would increase human presence and move calves to secure pastures. The installation of flashing lights to deter the wolves from calves didn’t work, either.

ODFW would also search the area for wildlife carcasses and other attractants, but found none. Regardless of the hunt, the landowner will continue nonlethal measures in hopes of avoiding conflict altogether.

According to The Center for Biological Diversity, this new pack of Gray wolves (Canis lupus) was confirmed to reside in Oregon in mid 2022. The pack lives in a part of the state where they’re still protected under federal law, despite recent laws in several states that legalize the killing of the endangered species. Oregon officials estimate their current wolf population to be 175 individuals in 21 packs.