(Update: Adding video, comments by ODFW)
PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday confirmed five more livestock kills by wolves across the state, including the second in the Lower Bridge area of Central Oregon involving the two Metolius wolves in recent weeks.
An investigation on May 26 confirmed a 2-week-old calf was killed by the Metolius wolves on public land in the Jefferson County section of Lower Bridge, the report stated.
Another investigation earlier in the month confirmed a steer had been killed by the same pack on private land on the Deschutes County side of Lower Bridge, the first in Deschutes County since wolves returned to the state in recent years.
The “Metolius wolves are two wolves that have been in the area for about two years,” ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told NewsChannel 21 in mid-May. They are not referred to by the agency as a "pack," defined as a minimum of four wolves.
ODFW said two wolves were documented in the Metolius Area of Known Wolf Activity last year. “No pups were observed, and the group was not designated as a breeding pair,” the agency’s Jefferson County wolves page said.
The Metolius AKWA extends from Jefferson County south into a small area of northern Deschutes County, while at the south end of Deschutes County, the Upper Deschutes AKWA straddles the Deschutes/Klamath County line.
Within areas of known wolf activity (AKWA) some preventative measures are recommended to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts. Non-lethal measures, though not required, “are important to reduce depredation,” ODFW said.
“If depredation becomes chronic and lethal control become necessary, ODFW says its ability to lethally remove depredating wolves will be depending on the extent that non-lethal measures have been used and documented,” the agency said.
However, ODFW noted that they cannot authorize lethal control in areas where wolves are listed as federally endangered, including Central Oregon. Wolves are listed as such west of Highways 395, 78 and 95, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead management agency.
Last year, after ODFW declared an Area of Known Wolf Activity in Deschutes County, county officials began creating a Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Committee, much as other counties have.
The committee will focus on ways to prevent or reduce rancher-wolf conflicts and help regulate the process of awarding compensation when wolves prey on livestock. It will make recommendations to commissioners on grant applications under a state financial assistance program.
In its statewide wolf report for 2022, ODFW confirmed 76 incidents of wolf-livestock depredation after 121 investigations, documenting the death of 71 livestock animals and three working dogs. The majority (85 percent) occurred on private land.
Consistent with the Wolf Plan, livestock producers implemented non-lethal measures to minimize depredation prior to any department approval of wolf lethal removal. Six wolves were lethally removed in response to chronic depredation in 2022.
"I think some key things that livestock owners can do is to remove or bury both piles and carcasses as these can attract wolves," said Dennehy told NewsChannel 21 Friday. "Think about protective measures like fencing dogs, more human presence with with your livestock."
Wolves are federally listed as endangered in Central Oregon, which means in some areas, it's illegal to shoot or injure wolves unless human life is threatened.
If you suspect wolves killed or injured your livestock, you should reach out to ODFW. If it's confirmed, you could be compensated for the loss of your animal.