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Wood River wolf kill attributed to Rogue Pack

The first wolf kill of the year in Southern Oregon was reported Thursday in the Klamath Basin’s Wood River Valley.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, a ranch manager found a dead 500-pound calf Thursday morning in a 150-acre grass pasture. The report said the calf’s organs and the majority of its muscle tissue and portions of its hide had been consumed. The calf was estimated to have died about 36 hours prior to the investigation.

The ODFW report said portions of the carcass were shaved, skinned and examined, with investigators finding several premortem tooth scrapes measuring up to 3 inches long and a quarter-inch wide on the calf’s right hind leg above the hock, right flank and behind and above both elbows. There were also areas of hemorrhaging on underlying tissues.

According to the findings, “The size, number and location of bite scrapes and the severity of associated premortem hemorrhage are similar to injuries observed on other calves attacked by wolves.”

The depredation is attributed to the Rogue Pack and is the first reported this year in the region that includes Klamath and Jackson counties. In 2020, the Rogue Pack was regarded the deadliest in the western U.S. The Rogue Pack of gray wolves gained notoriety because its patriarch was OR-7, who has not been seen since 2019 and is believed to have died.

Originally a member of the Imnaha Pack in northeast Oregon, OR-7 was electronically tracked during its wanderings throughout Oregon and far Northern California while searching for a mate. His former mate, who gave birth to a first litter of pups in 2014, is denning with another male, according to ODFW.

Since 2016, the Rogue Pack has been responsible for more than 35 confirmed kills, mostly on cattle grazing lands in the Fort Klamath area of Klamath County and near Prospect in Jackson County. A pack is defined as four or more wolves traveling together in winter.

The Rogue Pack and other wolves in western Oregon are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Over recent years, biologists have attempted to dissuade the wolves with various hazing techniques, such as the use of loud sounds, lights, radioactive guard boxes, human presence and other scare techniques. Oregon’s wolf plan requires that nonlethal efforts be used before lethal removal is considered.

The last confirmed wolf kill by the Rogue Pack was Nov. 30, 2020.

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.