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Wolves suspected in sheep kill on Oregon coast

The gray wolf dispersal from northeastern Oregon over more than a decade apparently has reached the Southern Oregon coast, where wildlife managers found a grisly calling card.

One or more gray wolves likely attacked and killed almost two dozen sheep over an 11-day span in the Coastal Mountains northeast of Port Orford, which if confirmed would be the farthest west a wolf-depredation case has been discovered to date, authorities said.

A private landowner and a federal Wildlife Services agent Monday reported the case to state wildlife biologists after finding four dead lambs, which increased the number of sheep killed there to 23 since Feb. 23, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

An investigation of three of the sheep carcasses showed injuries consistent with a wolf attack, but there was a lack of diagnostic evidence to clearly differentiate between a wolf and a domestic dog, according to an ODFW report on the case.

No chase, struggle or kill scenes were found where the sheep were discovered, the report states.

Though officially listed as “probable” wolf kills, ODFW biologists could upgrade that should more evidence arise from such things as trail cameras that have been installed in the area, said Michelle Dennehy, ODFW’s wolf program spokeswoman.

It is the farthest west in Oregon that a probable or confirmed livestock predation case has been discovered, though a possible/unknown wolf attack killed three sheep and injured two Oct. 18 near Langlois in Coos County, north of where this week’s attack occurred, Dennehy said.

State and federal biologists currently are not monitoring any wolves in Curry County, Dennehy said. However, last August tracks were discovered along the Pistol River south of Gold Beach and less than 5 miles upstream from the ocean, and biologists said they were consistent with a wolf, Dennehy said.

There was also a blurry trail-camera picture of an animal that could be a wolf or dog in a portion of Coos County where a livestock depredation case was listed as possible/unknown.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

A wolf is shown July 16, 2018, in Curry County. Photo courtesy Dave Green, OHA Chetco Chapter VP, Pistol River