PROSPECT — Lone wolf OR-25 has pulled up stakes in Klamath County and moved over to eastern Jackson County — apparently with the intent of luring away a member of the fairer sex from his cousin's family.
The 3-year-old male has spent the past two months hanging around the territorial fringes of the Rogue Pack and its famed patriarch OR-7.
OR-25 wears a collar fitted with a GPS-transmitter like the one OR-7 wore during his well known search for a mate when he left the Imnaha Pack in fall of 2011 and trekked across Western Oregon and Northern California before settling with his uncollared mate in southeast Jackson County in 2014.
OR-25 also dispersed from the Imnaha Pack, in 2015, and has remained almost exclusively in Jackson County the past two months. He likely has designs on a Rogue Pack female, or he could be looking to take over a pack of his own should the Rogue Pack split, says a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist monitoring the wolves.
"He's got to have something like that on his mind since he's been hanging around where the Rogue Pack is," says John Stephenson, a wildlife biologist working on wolf issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service out of Bend.
But in the early-morning hours last Saturday, OR-25 had a quick meal on its mind when it apparently attacked and killed a 3-day-old calf on a private ranch off Red Blanket Road near Prospect, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The wolf's GPS collar showed it was at the location at 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Saturday, and a ranch hand later found the dead and eviscerated calf, according to ODFW's livestock depredation report.
A single set of wolf tracks was found at the scene when investigated later that day by ODFW biologists, leading to the confirmation that it was predation, the report states.
Biologists later checked GPS coordinates on the collar, which has been worn by OR-25 since May 20, 2014, when it was still with the Imnaha Pack of Northeast Oregon. The coordinates, along with a necropsy showing clear signs of a wolf attack, led to the confirmation Monday, said Mark Vargas, an ODFW wildlife biologist in White City.
This is the second time OR-25 has been involved in livestock predation, ODFW records show.
In early November 2015, one calf was killed and two calves were injured in attacks over three consecutive nights on a private ranch in the Upper Williamson River area, and GPS coordinates pinned the attacks on OR-25, records show.
After last weekend's case, the ranch foreman has moved his cattle closer to the ranch house to keep better tabs on them in the midst of their calving season, Vargas said.
Stephenson said he has also added flagged electric fencing and sets of strobe lights to deter wolves.
It's the same deterrence package Stephenson constructed outside of Ashland when wolf OR-33 killed sheep and goats in two difference attacks in June 2016, ODFW records show.
The Rogue Pack was suspected in the deaths of three calves last fall in the Wood River area, ODFW records show. While the calves were confirmed to have been killed by wolves, and the predation was in areas frequented by the pack, none of the estimated nine animals in the Rogue Pack are collared, ODFW states.
When OR-25 dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in March 2015, he traveled through the Columbia Basin, Southern Blue Mountains, and northern and central Cascade Mountains. Last May he appeared to settle down in eastern Klamath County east of Highway 97.
But two months ago he showed up along the fringe of the Rogue Pack's haunts around Butte Falls and Prospect, Vargas says, where government and private trail cameras have caught several images of the dark-colored wolf with its predominantly black face.
Other members of the public have reported seeing it, Vargas said. In all cases, it was observed or its image captured while it was alone, he says.
— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.