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Oregon Targets Remaining Members of Wolf Family After Killing Two Pups to Protect Cows

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The month of August was deadly for some of the youngest members of Oregon’s Lookout Mt wolf pack. The months of September and October could be deadlier still. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) officials announced on Thursday that they are increasing efforts to kill members of the Lookout Mt family in an attempt to stop predation on livestock.

ODFW is issuing kill permits to four livestock producers that will allow them to kill two uncollared wolves on lands they own or legally occupy (leased public lands) from now until October 31st. The only uncollared wolves in the family are yearlings or pups born this spring.

In a blatant disregard of peer-reviewed science, ODFW officials also intend to kill another four wolves in the family, including the collared breeding male. These kill orders mean that this family of nine wolves (collared breeding female and breeding male, two yearlings, and five pups born in 2021) could be slashed to just three members by the end of October.

ODFW’s Pup-Killing Only Brings About More Death

ODFW officials shot and killed two wolf pups from a helicopter 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, so two yearlings born in 2020 and five pups born in 2021 were the targets.

After Oregon officials confirmed that the wolves preyed upon a cow after the two pups were killed, the agency issued a new kill permit. This one authorized 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 expired on September 14, 2021. On September 16, 2021, ODFW issued yet another permit with the ultimate intent of destroying the family unit.

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.