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Rancher loses sixth animal to wolves

Gray wolf OR-7’s Rogue Pack has been blamed for killing another cow at a northeastern Jackson County ranch, the eighth confirmed livestock kill attributed to the pack since late October, authorities said.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported Thursday that a livestock owner found an injured, 5-month-old, 235-pound calf New Year’s Day on a ranch in the Boundary Butte area where the Rogue Pack has killed before, but the report did not identify the ranch.

Rancher Ted Birdseye confirmed Friday it was his ranch.

Birdseye has lost six animals — five cows and a guard dog — to the Rogue Pack over the past 13 months, Birdseye said.

“You’re essentially awake for the rest of the night,” Birdseye said of the attacks. “Go out and walk around between 2 and 4 in the morning to see where those wolves are. They’re howling and carrying on. It’s just a really frustrating situation.”

In Tuesday’s case, Birdseye discovered the injured calf with a 2-foot length of intestine protruding from the animal’s rear. The calf was euthanized on site, and the carcass was brought to an ODFW office, where an examination was completed Wednesday morning.

“She was a young animal. I mean she was probably 4-1/2, 5-1/2 months old,” Birdseye said.

ODFW said the entire carcass was shaved and skinned, revealing more than 100 tooth scrapes on the neck, abdomen, flanks and hindquarters.

“The premortem muscle tissue trauma is a clear sign of predator attack, and the size, number and location of the bite injuries are similar to injuries observed on other calves attacked by wolves,” the ODFW release stated.

An ODFW biologist said the calf had been attacked within the previous 12 hours, according to the report.

Birdseye has taken multiple steps to protect his cattle, including guard dogs. U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists have installed electric fences, with bright flags, motion-triggered lights and noisemakers.

“I’ve done everything by the book between the state and the federal people and tried to be cooperative with everybody, and we’re just kind of starting to strike out,” Birdseye said.

Recently he has been considering installing the large waving inflatable tube men sometimes seen at auto dealerships. Some have begun using the method in Eastern Oregon, Birdseye said. The problem, he said, is adequate electrical power.

“We’re off the grid, and it won’t put out enough wattage between the houses and the buildings to operate those things, so we’re thinking about maybe some little portable generators or something,” he said.

Birdseye said he has not been able to relocate his calves.

“If I could get them out of there, that’d be great,” Birdseye said. “But the prices are so bad, I can’t sell them right now, I have to wait for the prices to come up in the spring.”

OR-7 and his pack will not be subject to lethal removal by ODFW because they are in Western Oregon, where gray wolves are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Wolves in Western Oregon are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In past cases, the owners of confirmed losses of livestock or working dogs to wolves in Jackson County have been paid $1,000 in compensation through the Jackson County Wolf Compensation Committee.

Wolf OR-7 is caught on an ODFW remote camera on public land in western Klamath County on Oct. 23, 2016.