Wolves approach limit for kill order

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The latest livestock attack by Oregon’s Snake River wolf pack puts it one bite away from a potential state kill order.

An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report released Monday says the rancher who found a wounded cow Nov. 21 in the rugged country between the Imnaha and Snake rivers had taken required nonlethal steps to deter wolf attacks.

Those steps included cleaning up old cow carcasses, putting out radio-activated alarm boxes and checking the cattle up to five times a day.

The report says bite marks on the cow’s hindquarters were characteristics of wolf attacks. The wounds were estimated to be a week or two old, and a GPS tracking collar put the pack in the area at that time.

New rules established under a legal settlement allow officials to consider a kill order after four qualifying attacks by a wolf pack in six months. The most recent attack makes three for the Snake River pack since October.

Unlike other states trying to control wolves in cattle country, Oregon has adopted specific rules requiring ranchers to take nonlethal steps to deter wolf attacks before the state can shoot a wolf for attacking livestock. The rules were the result of a legal settlement of a lawsuit from conservation groups.

Russ Morgan, wolf coordinator for the department, said more ranchers have bought into nonlethal control in the range of the Imnaha pack, where they have been dealing with wolves for a longer time. However, it is still uncertain whether the nonlethal controls are responsible, he said.

Morgan added that the Imnaha pack is made up of different wolves, except for the breeding pair, than when the pack was more actively attacking livestock.

Young adults have moved on, and the pack has at least seven new pups.

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