The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has plans to kill two more of the Harl Butte wolves. Earlier this month, two members of the pack were killed, but due to continued livestock predation, two more wolves need to go.
Fish and Wildlife's Michelle Dennehy says the pack was bigger than they thought. "We have discovered in the past few weeks working out in the field with this pack, that it's actually larger than originally expected. We thought there were seven wolves plus three pups and we've since learned that there were ten wolves with three pups, so now there are eight wolves, and after this there will be six. So, we hope that has the impact that we're looking for."
Dennehy says wolves are usually afraid of humans, but the non-lethal measures put in place in the area have not kept the livestock safe from this large pack. The non-lethal measures ODFW works with the ranchers to implement include electric fences, range riders, humans spending more time with their livestock, and wolf hazing. Dennehy added, "Wolves are generally afraid of people, so when you have a lot of human presence around, that tends to keep wolves away."
The decision to kill a wolf is never made lightly, but there has been a wolf management plan in place for several years, and Fish and Wildlife is following it. "We have a wolf plan that guides wolf management in Oregon. Unfortunately, sometimes, wolves will kill livestock, and the Harl Butte wolf pack, which is in Wallowa county, killed livestock and that's why we are going to kill an additional two members from this pack."
ODFW's plans to thin the pack should lead to a change in the wolves' behavior and hunting grounds, which will help protect the livestock.