Wolf confirmed as culprit in sheep deaths near Weston

The kills are the first confirmed in Umatilla County since wolves returned.

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PENDLETON -- State wildlife officials said four sheep have been killed by a wolf on private land east of Weston. It was the first confirmed wolf kill of livestock in Umatilla County since wolves returned.

The investigation by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel took place Wednesday, the day the sheep were found dead by their owner. The two ewes and two lambs were in a pen, officials said. One additional lamb is missing and believed to have been killed by the wolf.

Based on evidence at the scene, wildlife biologists believe a single wolf was involved. The five dead sheep bring the number of livestock animals killed by wolves in Oregon to 57 since 2009.

The last confirmed wolf kill of livestock occurred March 8 in Wallowa County, which has been the only area that has had confirmed or probable livestock losses due to wolves.

In a release, ODFW officials said wildlife workers immediately helped the landowner install electrified fladry, a type of fencing that can deter wolves, around the sheep pens. They are also working to capture and radio-collar the wolf.

The attack occurred in an area not known to be frequented by one of Oregon's four known wolf packs but by two wolves discovered last August in the northern Mount Emily wildlife management unit. The four known packs are the Imnaha, Wenaha, Walla Walla and Snake River.

Under a new state program, the landowner is eligible to seek compensation for the loss of the livestock. The county has received $15,495 from the Oregon Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance County Block Grant Program to pay for losses caused by wolves and for efforts to prevent wolves from preying on livestock.

The amount was the second-largest sum granted to eight Oregon counties under the program. Wallowa County received the largest sum, $38,725 out of the total of $82,970 appropriated by the Oregon Legislature.

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