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Oregon Targets Wolf Family’s Youngest Members to Protect Cows

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The month of August has been deadly for two of the youngest members of the Lookout Mt wolf family. The following weeks may prove deadlier still.

In a misguided attempt to stop predation on livestock, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) shot and killed two wolf pups from a helicopter a few weeks ago on August 1. The gunning down of the 3-month-olds occurred a few days after 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 wolf parents are the only collared members of the Lookout Mt Pack, leaving two yearlings born in 2020 and pups born in 2021 with targets on them.

After Oregon officials confirmed that the wolves preyed upon a cow last Friday, the agency issued a new kill permit. This one authorizes three area cattle producers who have experienced conflict on their ranches, on either public or private land, to kill two more uncollared wolves – meaning the yearlings or more pups of the year. 

The permit expires on September 14, 2021.

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 the 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.

An estimated 173 wolves are living in Oregon today.