Mt. Emily Pack likely to blame for livestock deaths

MISSION – Wolves from the Mount Emily Pack are likely to blame for five livestock deaths that occurred on the Umatilla Indian Reservation (UIR) over a two-week span between April 30 and May 13, according to a news release from the Confederated Tribes.

At least one of those cases was confirmed as a wolf kill.

A livestock producer found a dead 3-month-old calf on his 5,500 acre CTUIR rangeland grazing allotment near Telephone Ridge on May 13 while checking his cattle. CTUIR and Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) responded to investigate the death of the 175-pound calf.

The livestock producer had reported seeing one wolf near his cows two days before.

The investigation revealed multiple canine bite marks and tooth scrape marks that are “clear evidence of a predator attack,” according to an ODFW report. “The location, size of bite scrapes, and severity of the injuries are similar to those observed in other calves attacked by wolves.”

All five domestic livestock carcasses were found on UIR range units with evidence of predation as the cause of death, according to the CTUIR news release. For instance, on May 12, another dead calf was found in the Telephone Ridge area. It had been heavily scavenged and predation was clear. However, due to lack of hide and muscle tissue an official cause of death could not be confirmed.

Wolf tracks were found near three of the carcasses, and GPS and radio telemetry data provided evidence of a radio-collared wolf in the area. While three of the four carcasses were scavenged too heavily to confirm the cause of death, wolf tracks and scat were observed at or near one calf that was confirmed by staff to have fallen to wolf predation. Based on the radio telemetry data, the depredation was attributed to the Mount Emily wolf pack.

CTUIR Wildlife and Range staff, along with staff from the ODFW and livestock permittees have been coordinating to address livestock depredations on Reservation range units. Tribal and ODFW staff continue to closely monitor the situation and implement non-lethal deterrents.

The CTUIR Department of Natural Resources has hired a range rider to supplement the efforts of the permittees and Tribal Wildlife and Range Program staff are implementing regular patrols in coordination with the permittee. All depredation sites have been cleared of all cattle remains to reduce potential attractants to wolves and other predators.

According to its news release, the CTUIR supports the natural re-establishment of self-sustaining, breeding populations of wolves in the lands within the areas of interest and influence of the CTUIR including its ceded lands, the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and its traditional use areas. The CTUIR supports the implementation of plans to assure that reestablished populations of wolves are managed in balance with other wildlife species, human health and safety needs, and the overall economic health of the region.

In support of these goals, the CTUIR’s Department of Natural Resources and the Fish and Wildlife Commission have developed a plan to guide their responses to conflicts or issues that may arise with reestablished wolf populations on the reservation. Non-lethal control measures are attempted first, however landowners and livestock operators or their agents may kill a wolf caught in the act of pursuing or attacking livestock or guard dogs within the grazing unit. The plan contains additional provisions for lethal take to address repeated depredations, when and where evidence is conclusive, and subject to review and approval of the CTUIR Fish and Wildlife Commission.