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State approves lethal action against Imnaha pack

Five confirmed wolf depredations in Wallowa County in March.

By Scot Heisel

EO Media Group

Published on March 31, 2016 12:18PM

Last changed on March 31, 2016 2:16PM

OR-3, a male wolf from the Imnaha pack, is shown in this image captured from video taken by an ODFW employee on May 10, 2011, in Wallowa County.

Courtesy of ODFW

OR-3, a male wolf from the Imnaha pack, is shown in this image captured from video taken by an ODFW employee on May 10, 2011, in Wallowa County.

Imnaha Pack AKWA map, issued March 17.

Courtesy of ODFW

Imnaha Pack AKWA map, issued March 17.

Imnaha Pack AKWA map, issued Dec. 31, 2015.

Courtesy of ODFW

Imnaha Pack AKWA map, issued Dec. 31, 2015.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday announced that it will lethally remove depredating wolves from the Imnaha pack in Wallowa County following five confirmed depredations in the Upper Swamp Creek area in March.

A press release issued Thursday morning states: “ODFW has confirmed five livestock depredation incidents on private land within the past three weeks by some wolves in the Imnaha pack, despite continued efforts by ODFW, Wallowa County officials, and area livestock producers to deter wolf-livestock conflict with non-lethal measures. With the pack now involved in chronic livestock depredation and as part of implementation of Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan provisions, ODFW will lethally remove depredating wolves to reduce the likelihood of further losses.

“Information from two collared wolves — OR4, the alpha male and OR39, the alpha female — indicate that they and another two younger wolves have regularly used an area of private land on the westernmost portion of their known home range. While infrequent visits were historically made to the area by this pack, the near continual use of the area at this time of year is a marked departure from the pack’s normal pattern.”

ODFW on Wednesday night issued a report confirming the fifth depredation on private land in the area north of Enterprise. The most recent case involves an adult ram sheep that was discovered live but with multiple fresh bite wounds inside both hind legs, on the back, left flank area and over the right rib cage.

The incident was reported and investigated Wednesday and comes on the heels of two other confirmed depredations in the same area involving heifer calves that were announced Monday. Wildlife officials determined that one calf was killed sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning, while the other likely was killed Monday morning and was still warm when an investigator arrived on scene.

Both heifer calves weighed approximately 700 lbs., according to ODFW incident reports, and each had signs of numerous bite wounds and scrapes. A third, live calf was found in the same pasture with “numerous bite wounds and severe tissue damage on both hind legs.”

Incident reports indicate fresh wolf tracks were discovered near the carcasses and GPS radio-collar data confirm two members of the Imnaha Pack — OR-4 and OR-39 — were in the area at the time.

ODFW investigators previously confirmed a separate wolf depredation involving a calf in the same pasture on March 9. Another depredation involving an adult male sheep was confirmed about 3 miles away on March 25.

All five March depredations have been attributed to the Imnaha Pack. On March 17 ODFW officials released an updated map of the Area of Known Wolf Activity for the Imnaha Pack, which roams primarily in Wallowa County. The newest AKWA map, last revised in December, now extends across much of the Zumwalt Prairie area north of Enterprise.

On Tuesday, ODFW Wildlife Communications Coordinator Michelle Dennehy said the state was considering a request for lethal action that was made by some Wallowa County ranchers.

ODFW has filed official incident reports on 10 wolf depredation investigations so far in 2016. Six have been confirmed depredations, one was categorized as “possible/unknown” and three were determined not to be related to wolves. The only confirmed wolf depredation this year that didn’t occur in Wallowa County involved a heifer in Klamath County in late February.

To view the most recent AKWA map for the Imnaha Pack as well as previous maps, visit http://tinyurl.com/j8xxjdz.

For more on this story, check Wallowa.com for updates and see the April 6 print edition of The Wallowa County Chieftain.


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