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Oregon Officials Gun Down Two Wolf Pups from Helicopter to Protect Cows

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The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) shot and killed two wolf pups of the Lookout Mt Pack from a helicopter on Sunday in a misguided attempt to stop livestock attacks.

On July 29, ODFW authorized its agents and a livestock producer to kill up to four uncollared wolves in an area comprised of public and private lands; the uncollared members of the Lookout Mt Pack are two yearlings born in 2020 and seven pups born in 2021.

During the helicopter flight on Sunday, ODFW employees saw at least five pups and the pack’s breeding female and male , according to an ODFW spokesperson. They didn’t see either of the two yearlings wolves.

The permit expires on August 21, 2021 or when livestock are removed from the grazing area – whichever happens first. The past few days have been deadly for two of the youngest members of the wolf family. The following weeks may prove deadlier still.

Killing Wolves Does Not Reduce Conflict

Science shows that killing a wolf can increase the risk that wolves will prey on livestock in the future. It is counterproductive and unsustainable. Additional research also suggests that killing of wolves can increase the risk to nearby farms, providing further evidence for the ineffectiveness of the so-called “lethal control” policy approach.

Wildlife managers across the West trap and kill wolves, cougars and coyotes and other predators, and lethal control has become more common for wolves in Oregon and Washington as their populations have grown. But many scientists contend there’s little good evidence for the effectiveness of those efforts.

Under Oregon’s Wolf Plan rules, livestock producers must be using and document non-lethal methods to deter wolves before lethal control can be considered. Also, there can be no identified circumstances on the property (such as bone piles or carcasses) that could be attracting wolves.

Known resident wolf activity areas in December 2020. Courtesy of ODFW, 2020 Annual Wolf Report.

Wolves throughout Oregon were delisted from the state Endangered Species Act (ESA) on November 9, 2015. Wolves in the western portion of the state (west of Hwys 395-78-95) lost federal protections in January 2021. Wolves are now state-managed by ODFW.

There are an estimated 173 wolves living in Oregon.