Thursday, May 28, 2015

Experience with wolves discussed

Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 
VALE — Earlier this month, Ed and Evelyn Sayers were visited by a wolf. 
It was the first time the couple, who raise cattle between Cairo Junction and Vale, have had a wolf encounter in their 19 years of ranching.
“We just had one in the middle of our property, but they hazed it out right away,” Evelyn Sayers said.
“Yeah, we got a call on the sixth of May a little after seven in the morning that the wolf was in the middle of our cattle,” Ed Sayer added.

The wolf was likely OR22, a radio collar-tagged animal that spent time this spring south of Vale and west of Adrian before heading out of Malheur County in early May. Its sighting was addressed Tuesday at a wolf workshop that the Sayers attended at the Malheur Education Service District in Vale.

About 20 people attended the workshop, which was hosted by Malheur County Court and the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office. The event intended to inform individuals of the protocols and procedures when dealing with suspected wolf kills.

Philip Milburn, a wildlife biologist for the Malheur District with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, was one of the speakers. He spoke of the online wolf reporting system, recent wolf sightings in the area and the current policies regarding the issue.

According to Milburn, there are currently 77 known wolves in the state, some of which have been radio collared in order to track their whereabouts.

However, at this point there are no established wolves in the area, yet if ever there is a sighting, the online wolf reporting system is where these reports are tracked.

Oftentimes, these sighting are notified via phone to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and assist in discovering packs or established wolves.

In existence to protect the species is the current Oregon endangered species law which prohibits harming of wolves.

Greg Jones, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wildlife services specialist in Malheur County, shared with the crowd the importance of safeguarding the evidence and what to look for in a suspicious killing of livestock.

As communicated by Jones, it is essential to preserve evidence of a possible wolf attack until a wildlife services agent arrives to the scene.

A suspicious death could include trauma, bitemarks, tracks and signs of struggle.

Wallowa County Undersheriff Fred Steen shared his wolf encounter experiences, tips and pictures of what to look for in a suspected wolf depredation.

On numerous occasions, Steen has dealt with the realities of wolf depredation in his county by conducting investigations side by side with the department of fish and wildlife.

He also spoke of preserving the scene to gather evidence by taking pictures, measuring bitemarks, skinning the deceased animal to get a better look at possible trauma, because often it is not visible to the eye.

To provide visuals for livestock producers he presented pictures and video of wolf attacks he investigated.

Evelyn Sayers said it was comforting to hear from Steen.

“It was a little funny with the sheriff talking, because it was like he preaching to the choir, because we all feel the same way,” she said. “So it was nice to hear how the law enforcement feels and that they understand how we feel.”