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Calf attacked by wolf in Swan Lake Valley

OR-33 the culprit, still on the move

Wildlife officials have confirmed wolf OR-33 attacked a 10-month-old calf earlier this month.

Jon Muir, assistant district wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Klamath Falls office, said the ODFW conducted its investigation on Monday, Feb. 22, and confirmed the wolf depredation on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The attack occurred at a cattle ranch in Swan Lake Valley, east of Klamath Falls.

“The calf was still alive when were contacted by the landowner and it remains alive as far as I know,” Muir said.

Muir said the animal’s injury was first detected after the landowners detected the smell of rotting flesh coming from their calf herd. After inspecting the herd, the landowners discovered a 500-pound calf had severe scrape wounds on its rear left leg.

“Unlike a coyote or a dog that’s got really sharp canine teeth, wolf canines are generally more blunt — they tend to not penetrate the skin. They tend to scrape down along it and leave grooves in the hide,” Muir said.

The calf did not limp or give any other indication it was injured, according to Muir.

OR-33 was in the Swan Lake Valley area where the attack occurred for more than two weeks. Muir said during that time the ODFW received infrequent downloads from the wolf’s GPS radio collar. He said the download recorded nearest to the depredation placed OR-33 1.6 miles from the ranch.

The landowners reported seeing wolf tracks in the pasture with the calves and along the fence line in the snow, Muir said.

OR-33 is a 2-year-old male wolf that dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in November 2015. He is the fifth radio-collared wolf to make its way to Klamath County.

“This is the first time a dispersing wolf has been associated with and confirmed with a depredation. Typically, we have an ‘area of known wolf activity,’ and that gives us a way to put boundaries around an area of depredating wolves. In this case, that wolf is still dispersing and still moving around. He’s not established anywhere,” Muir said.

Muir said OR-33 left the area sometime after the depredation and has not returned.

According to an ODFW news release, the agency is not designating an activity area at this time because OR-33 is no longer in the area and has not yet become resident in any area. For now, the agency plans to identify the area in and around the depredation as an “area of depredating wolves.”

Muir said this is the first instance in which an area of depredating wolves is established before an activity area. ODFW designates areas of known wolf activity in regions where wolves or packs have become established. Activity areas are only designated when wildlife officials can verify wolves have been using an area over an extended period of time, according to the agency’s website.

It is impossible to know where OR-33 will travel to next or when he, or other uncollared wolves, will become resident in an area, the release said.

Livestock producers are encouraged to watch for signs of wolf activity in the area of their livestock and to remove livestock carcasses and other wolf attractants to reduce the potential for conflict.


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