Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wolves 'probably' killed calf in Siskiyou County

A wolf from a newly discovered pack in California is seen in an image captured on a Fish and Wildlife camera.
By Damon Arthur of the Redding Record Searchlight
Posted: 12.19.2015

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has concluded that a rancher's calf killed in Siskiyou County last month was probably eaten by wolves, marking the first livestock kill in the state since wolves were re-established here this past summer.

According to a fish and wildlife report, the calf was found by ranchers rounding up cattle on Nov. 10. Wildlife officials did not release who owned the calf and where the animal was found.
Conflicts between wolves and livestock have been a concern since a gray wolf named OR-7 wandered from Oregon into Siskiyou County in 2011. OR-7 eventually returned to Oregon to help establish a pack of wolves in the southern part of that state.

A new pack of wolves, called the Shasta Pack, moved into Siskiyou County this past summer, becoming the first documented group of wolves in the state since the 1920s.
Mark Coat, president of the Siskiyou County Cattlemen's Association said November's livestock incident marks the first officially documented wolf kill of livestock.
Ranchers were concerned that once the wolves have learned they can prey on livestock they will continue.

"Once they start killing any species of animal, they continue," Coat said. "It's learned behavior."
According to the DFW's "livestock depradation investigation," an employee herding cattle saw five wolves feeding on a dead calf in a meadow. When the rider, whose named was blacked out in the report, approached to investigate and take photos, the wolves moved away, the report says.

The employee and others went back to rounding up cattle and when they returned about 30 minutes later the calf carcass was gone, the report says. The calf was estimated at two weeks to a month old and weighing about 100 pounds.

There were about 160 adult cattle and 40 calves that had been grazing in the meadow for the past 30 days, the report says. The cattle were being checked about every three days, with no other wolf kills reported during that time, the report says.
An adult cow carcass was also found in the area, but investigators determined they did not know how the cow died.

After the state released its wolf management plan earlier this month, Kirk Wilbur, director of government relations with the California Cattlemen's Association, said he was concerned the plan did not give ranchers the option to kill wolves as a last resort.

Because the gray wolf is listed as an endangered species by California and the federal government, wolves preying on livestock cannot be killed, he said.

Ranchers also cannot drive wolves off private land to prevent them from feeding on cattle or sheep, he said, because it is illegal under the Endangered Species Act to harass animals that are state or federally protected.

Wilbur said ranchers aren't advocating hunting wolves and don't want to shoot them, but the association sought to include the option to kill wolves when other measures, such as electric fencing and fence flagging, don't work.

"We're trying to get a management plan we can live with, unfortunately it doesn't look like that is going to happen," Coat said.