WALLA WALLA -- Umatilla County is among eight Oregon counties to receive funds to deal with wolf attacks on livestock as part of a new state program.
The county will receive the second-largest amount, $15,495, from the Oregon Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance County Block Grant Program. Wallowa County will receive the largest sum, $38,725.
The money will pay for actual livestock losses caused by wolves and for efforts to prevent wolves from preying on livestock. Wallowa County has been the only area that has had confirmed or probable livestock losses due to wolves.
A total of $82,970 was appropriated by the Oregon Legislature for the program, said Bruce Pokarny, Oregon Department of Agriculture spokesman. The four counties experiencing the bulk of the state's wolf activity, Wallowa, Umatilla, Union and Baker, have received $71,215, or 86 percent, of the money.
In a release, Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba thanked everyone involved for their efforts to implement the new program.
"The conflict between wolves and livestock is controversial and addressing the issue appropriately is important to all sides. We think this program is a good example of how government at the state and county levels can effectively work together to make a difference," she said.
The state has paid 100 percent of the claims tied to confirmed or probable livestock losses due to wolves, Coba said. Wallowa County was awarded $13,320 to compensate affected ranchers for livestock losses.
Of the funding provided by the block grants, $66,500, or 80 percent, is going toward non-lethal efforts to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock. County level advisory committees established by the program's legislation advanced grant requests to undertake the efforts.
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, at the end of last year the state's wolf population was at least 29 animals, with four confirmed packs in the northeastern tip of the state.
One group, the Walla Walla Pack, is estimated to consist of eight wolves, including five known pups from 2011, that were inhabiting the higher elevation forested areas in the upper Walla Walla River drainage.
The other identified packs are the Imnaha Pack, the Wenaha Pack and the Snake River Pack.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed five wolf packs in Washington state totaling at least 27 wolves. There was also evidence of unconfirmed packs in the Blue Mountains of Southeastern Washington, the department reported in January.
The Washington state packs are the Diamond Pack in Pend Oreille County and Idaho, the Smackout Pack in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, the Teanaway Pack in Kittitas County and the Lookout Pack in Okanogan County.
Total awards made by ODA to counties as part of the Oregon Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance County Block Grant Program:
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