Wolf kills of two yearling steers on two neighboring Fort Klamath area ranches, the first discovered last Monday and second on Wednesday, have been confirmed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Both kills are attributed by ODFW to wolves from the Rogue Pack.
The first kill was discovered Monday morning by Butch Wampler, ranch manager for the Nicholson Ranch. The 650-pound yearling steer was found partially eaten in an 80-acre private land grass pasture. According to ODFW, after the carcass was partially shaved and skinned, investigators found tooth scrapes up to a quarter-of-an-inch wide and 9 inches long along both flanks. Postmortem tooth scrapes near both elbows up to three-quarters-of-an-inch and 4 inches long and associated tissue trauma up to 2 inches deep were also found.
According to ODFW depredation reports, the findings “are clear signs of predator attack and the size, number and location of the bite injuries are similar to injuries observed on other cattle attacked by wolves.”
Nicholson said Wampler also saw a large wolf less than 50 yards away from him while he was working in the ranch’s pasture. “He just hung around for a while and rumbled off. He wasn’t in a big hurry to leave,” Nicholson said of the wolf.
The second wolf kill, again of a 650-pound yearling steer, was discovered Wednesday night on the JaCox Ranch, which is between the Nicholson Ranch and Fremont-Winema National Forest forestlands. “They ate more of this one,” Nicholson said of what remained of the carcass.
“The wolves were definitely eating on it,” said JaCox owner Jim Popson of the yearling steer found Wednesday. “They started awful early this year. I hope it stops, but I don’t know.”
Tom Collum, a biologist with ODFW, said the second kill was confirmed Friday. “We’re continuing to monitor that. We’re also trying to trap and get a collar on one of those rascals” so that the agency can attempt to track the pack’s movement, he said. None of the Rogue Pack wolves has been collared, which provides information that can help determine pack movements. Foothold traps are used to try to capture wolves but, as Collum said, “It’s not an easy endeavor,” noting wolves have a keen sense of smell.
He said wolf management plans are being coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tentative plans call for having personnel camp overnight in pastures to make noise and create a human presence to discourage wolves. “That seems to be the only non-lethal tool that’s effective,” Collom said.
“There’s a lot of activity. There’s been a lot of signs of wolves,” Nicholson said, noting it’s speculated the Rogue Pack has moved to the east side of the Cascades from the Prospect area. According to Nicholson, cameras in the Wood River Valley, located in the Fort Klamath region north of Klamath Falls and south of Crater Lake National Park, have recorded images of wolves and there also has been a report of a pregnant wolf near Kimball Park.
“They are here much earlier,” Collum said, noting this is the first year that a female wolf has denned on the west side of the Cascades.
A single wolf kill was reported in 2019 on June 2, when it was determined a 750-pound yearling steer had been killed by the Rogue Pack on the Nicholson Ranch. Also in 2019, two kills by Rogue Pack wolves were confirmed in Jackson County in November and two others in October.