On January 19th, 2016 the Union County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the owners of a female border collie which had died Monday the 18th of January of multiple bite wounds while under the care of a local veterinarian clinic.
According to the pet owners the dog was discovered on their front porch the evening of January the 16th. The owners, because of the extent of the wounds believed the animal may have been attacked by one or more wolves known to be in the vicinity of their residence east of Union.
Investigators from the Union County Sheriff’s Office immediately began an investigation on January 19th. The owners of the deceased dog were contacted and asked by investigators for access to their property, vet records and examination of the animal during a necropsy. The owners were very helpful and granted those requests.
UCSO investigators attended the necropsy and observed ODFW biologists during this procedure. UCSO investigators independently gathered photographs and measurements as visual evidence during the exam. As a result of the necropsy many bite wounds were found on the dog. Measurement of the canine bite radius wounds were consistently between 7/8 and 1inch from canine to canine.
Cross sections measurements of wounds were made and documented. Depths of the cross section wounds averaged between 5/16th and ¼ of an inch deep. No measurable bite wounds were found to be deeper than ¼ inch. There were several wounds which were deeper and longer but it was apparent these wounds were caused by a pulling affect which caused a ripping/tearing type wound and could not reveal the size of the tooth causing the wound. There were no broken bones located anywhere on the animal even when bites were directly over bony areas.
Investigators researched, photographed and documented known bite radius from skulls of an adult female wolf, wolf pup, and adult coyote and compared those with the known bite radius wounds of the deceased dog. The measurements on the adult female wolf skull were lower canines were at or very near two inches with the upper canines measuring 2 ½ inches point to point. The adult coyote lower canines measured about an inch apart, point to point and the upper canines about 1 1/8 inch apart point to point. The wolf juvenile skull visually presented a wider bite radius than did the coyote. This juvenile wolf skull had not yet developed adult canine teeth and had a larger bite radius than the adult coyote skull.
An extensive search of the owner’s property revealed no tracks, hairs, scat or other evidence indicating a wolf presence on the property. The location of the attack has not been discovered. It is known a dead deer was discovered on a neighboring property. This carcass is likely to be an attractant to any predator, scavenger or domestic dog in the immediate area. The deer carcass was properly disposed of by the neighbor when they were notified. At this point there is no evidence of wolf predation/attack in this case. The possibility of a coyote attack by multiple animals or domestic dogs is most likely. The Sheriff’s Office does recognize wolves are in this and other areas of the county. The potential for human and wolf conflicts are a possibility. The Sheriff’s Office will investigate reported predations on domestic animals or wolf/human conflicts as timely and completely as we can.