Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wolves in Oregon

New wolf pack found In Oregon

Credit: Marc Bales
Posted on October 25, 2011

NEAR JOSEPH, Ore. - Oregon Fish & Wildlife managers have confirmed a new wolf pack in the state.
State wolf coordinator Russ Morgan said Tuesday at least five wolves, including at least one pup, have been sighted in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
Photographer Marc Bales captured photos of what are believed to be members of the same pack in that area last summer.
Biologists told the Associated Press the new pack Northeast of Joseph may be a splinter group from another Idaho or Oregon pack.
Members of Oregon's Teanaway pack are blamed for attacking and killing calves on cattle ranches in the Joseph area.
Oregon Fish & Wildlife hunters were trying to kill the alpha male of that pack and another male before an Oregon judge ordered the hunt halted. The judge approved the request of wildlife groups, who wanted the hunt stopped until more was known about how the death of the alpha male would affect the rest of the pack.



  From the Defenders of Wildlife Blog

OP-ED: Wolf Coexistence in Oregon
Posted: 24 Oct 2011 09:20 AM PDT
The following commentary, by Defenders’ wolf expert Suzanne Stone, appeared this weekend in the Oregonian.

It’s been a busy summer for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) wolf biologists: 2,552 text messages on wolf whereabouts, 264 personal contacts with individual ranchers, 51 reports of wolf activity, 20 livestock depredation investigations, 18 aerial wolf monitoring flights, four public presentations, and two wolf removals.
State biologists spend hours tracking wolves through the Oregon backcountry, sometimes through deep snow when it's easiest to follow prints. Here, ODFW biologist Russ Morgan puts a collar on a female pup in early 2010.
These statistics, reported in ODFW monthly program updates, capture the depth and breadth of their activities between April and August. But they do not document the countless hours devoted by ODFW staff and some ranchers and conservation groups to finding ways for Oregon’s wolves and people to coexist.

Disagreements over the return of wolves to Oregon have distracted attention from some great work on the ground. This year alone in Oregon, 10 different landowners have used about 11 miles of fladry, flagging that scares away wolves, to protect their livestock. For a second season, a full-time range rider patrolled mountain valleys late at night and early in the morning to monitor wolf activity and run wolves off if necessary. Radio-activated alarms have been installed at three ranches. One rancher is even experimenting with cowbells to keep wolves away from his cattle while they graze on a Forest Service allotment.

These are all-important advances. Each is an innovative tool for safeguarding livestock and protecting wolves and each demonstrates that coexistence is possible.
Red flags, known as fladry, help keep wolves away from livestock operations.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the summer though was the passage of Oregon’s wolf coexistence and livestock compensation program. With unanimous support of the Legislature and a strong endorsement from Gov. John Kitzhaber, this program will help ensure that ranchers have incentives to do the right thing for livestock and wolves. The new program will compensate them for livestock lost to wolves, but only if they demonstrate that they have taken common-sense steps to minimize their losses. Further, it provides funds to help pay for nonlethal deterrents that can prevent conflict in the first place. Most important, it has shown that wolf supporters and the livestock industry can find common ground on practical solutions that benefit both parties.

Living with wolves is not impossible. Wolves are smart animals that don’t often take unnecessary risks. They are wary of humans. They don’t like bright lights and loud noises. They can be intimidated by guard dogs. For some reason, they don’t like bright red flags flapping in the wind, and they learn very quickly to respect electric fencing.
Defenders helped pay for Oregon's first dedicated ranger rider, who spent the summer grazing season keeping an eye on cattle herds and monitoring for wolves.
People are learning too. For example, a rotting cow carcass is a great way to attract wolves. That’s why state wildlife managers helped landowners get rid of five bone piles this year, and many ranchers have taken it upon themselves to remove carcasses during the winter and spring. Adding a range rider or a team of guard dogs and penning animals in at night is not free, but it’s a small price to pay to protect livestock and secure a better future for wolves in Oregon.
Defenders of Wildlife has worked with three different sheep producers in central Idaho, combining many of these techniques into one comprehensive project. Field technicians monitor wolves and work with herders to implement deterrents, including teams of guard dogs and electrified fencing at night, to protect more than 10,000 sheep that move through the Sawtooth wilderness during the summer grazing season. And in four years running, less than 20 sheep have been lost to wolves, showing that, with a little extra effort, it is possible to have a thriving wolf population without raising the stakes too high for livestock producers.

Oregon has a unique opportunity to duplicate what’s been accomplished in Idaho on a much bigger scale. State wildlife managers, forward-thinking ranchers and various conservation groups have already been paving the way toward coexistence. We can and should continue to find better ways to share the landscape with wolves.

Suzanne Stone is Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, based in Washington, D.C. She manages the organization’s wolf conservation and coexistence programs, including in eastern Oregon.