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Wolf report review slated for ODFW meeting April 21

  • followed by:

    Wolf numbers continue to rise in Klamath County

An upcoming meeting of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Commission in Klamath Falls will, among other topics, provide a review of the 2016 wolf report and a recently published revised draft of the wolf management plan.

The meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. Friday, April 21 in the Ponderosa room of the Running Y Ranch Resort conference center, will include a presentation of documents published Monday reviewing the most recent wolf survey data and management plans. An additional commission meeting is slated for May 19 in Portland at the Embassy Suites Portland Airport.

The presentation will be informational in nature, not subject to adoption as of yet, and public comment is still being sought.

Wolf survey results

Based on the most recent survey data, ODFW counted 112 known wolves in Oregon, a slight increase from 110 the previous year. A total of 11 packs were documented, eight of which included breeding pairs. This marked the third consecutive year that more than seven breeding pairs were confirmed in Eastern Oregon, where the majority of Oregon-based wolves have migrated from the relocated wolves placed in Idaho over a decade ago. That figure moves the East Wolf Management Zone into Phase 3 of wolf management, whereas numbers in Klamath County are not large enough to move beyond Phase 1 as dictated in the current Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

Additional wolf survey results noted an expansion in northeast and southwest Oregon, confirmed 24 livestock depredation incidents (an increase from the previous year), seven wolf deaths confirmed including three that were radio-collared, and 11 additional collars placed on wolves.

At a recent Natural Resources Advisory Council meeting in Klamath Falls, ODFW Biologist Tom Collom stated about 15 percent of the current Oregon wolf population has been fitted with radio collars, making exact population figures difficult to attain.

Coinciding with the 2016 wolf survey results, ODFW published a draft edition of a revised Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The plan is the result of a year-long review to evaluate effectiveness of current management operations and seeking ways to improve. The revised draft plan includes new sections on potential conservation threats and non-lethal measures to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts.

“When the Plan was first developed, Oregon had no known wolves and relied heavily on information from other states,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf program coordinator. “This review of the Plan incorporates more information from Oregon, and adds a great deal of new science about wolves.”

Public feedback

The plan was first negotiated between stakeholders and adopted by the Commission in 2005 after ODFW’s largest-ever public process. The draft Plan offers more details on several policies agreed on in the original Plan, and takes into consideration extensive public feedback.

The presentation of revised draft plans will be informational only at the April and May meetings, an official date for consideration of adoption of the revised plans has yet to be set. Residents are encouraged to attend either meeting to provide feedback about management policies and revisions to the Wolf Management Plan.

Other topics to be discussed at the April 21 meeting include Pacific Halibut fisheries regulations, ocean salmon fishing and ocean terminal fisheries, threatened and endangered species list revisions, access and habitat project funding, game bird regulations, leftover limited landowner preference tags and transfer of tags to terminally ill individuals. The wolf-related topics are the final matter of discussion on the meeting agenda.

For those who are unable to attend the meeting, public comments can be left at the ODFW director’s office by calling 503-947-6044 or mailed to 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302. Information about the meeting agenda, wolf survey results and the revised draft wolf management plan are available at http://bit.ly/2p57Zxv.

Wolf numbers continue to rise in Klamath County

  • Wolf numbers in Klamath County and Oregon continue to increase, according to experts, however the exact numbers are hard to pin down.

    Two local wolf experts spoke to the Klamath County Natural Resources Advisory Council Thursday regarding the Oregon wolf management plan and the impact felt as a result of rising wolf populations.

    Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Tom Collom and Paul Lewis, wolf advisory committee chair, detailed study results and answered questions for more than an hour before the 10-member panel.

    Collom noted that 2016 survey results will not be available for another week or two, yet remained confident that wolf populations in Oregon and locally in Klamath County were on the rise.

    The 1990s Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery relocated approximately 100 wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho. Collom estimated that population to have grown to 1,700 wolves today, with many of the Central Idaho wolves crossing the Snake River into Northeast Oregon and migrating across the state from there. Of those, only about 15 percent of the total wolf population has been equipped with tracking collars, making official numbers difficult to compile. Collom indicated the majority of wolf packs in Oregon remain in the northeastern counties.

    Klamath County falls under Phase I of the Oregon Wolf Management Plan, meaning it has yet to reach the wolf numbers of at least seven breeding pairs producing two pups or more that survive to the end of the year.

    Under Phase I only non-lethal forms of management are permitted, whereas in northeastern Oregon, enough of a population has developed that it has entered Phase III – permitting lethal force if necessary due to wolf depredation of livestock.

    An uptick in wolf numbers has kept Collom and ODFW busy surveying wolf depredation reports. While the wolf population has grown, Collom was quick to point out that depredation cases have remained relatively low and steady, and that not all wolves can be held responsible for the loss of sheep and cattle.

    However, Collom said that all five radio-collared wolves tracked in Klamath County currently have been confirmed to have been associated with a depredation case.

    “Wolves are extremely polarizing as an issue,” said Collom. “Many in the area think that we would be better off without wolves, others relish the fact that wolves are coming into the state.”

    While the increased population in northeastern Oregon has removed the wolf from the endangered list under Phase III of the Oregon Wolf Management Plan, according to Collom the species remains protected in western and southern parts of the state.

    The wolf presence not only creates potential for monetary loss for livestock producers, but also an emotional toll on animals and producers while potentially damaging future generations through genetic breed stock loss.

    From the ODFW standpoint, Collom described it as a workload issue. They place a high-priority on wolf management because of the potential threat to livestock, as well as depredation investigations.

    To combat the possibility of livestock loss, ODFW provides assistance wherever possible with non-lethal deterrents. Non-lethal measures include fluttering fencing, triggered noise alarms and alert devices, human presence and a reduction of bone piles and carcass dumps that tend to attack predators.

    Collom suggested removing any bone piles and burying any carcasses at least six feet deep as a deterrent, as often livestock remain in close proximity to places where carcasses have been left.

    Lewis commended the proactive approach taken by Klamath County to form a wolf advisory committee, which is a necessity in order to acquire reimbursements from the state for livestock losses.

    The committee’s purpose is to evaluate losses presented by producers based on confirmed kills or damage, while also stockpiling warning devices and deterrents to distribute to livestock producers as needed.

    “The worst I’m afraid is yet to come,” said Lewis of the rising wolf populations and its inevitable impact. “As Klamath County numbers build, depredation will only get worse. Without changes to the budget we may not have money to reimburse in the future.”

    The council unanimously passed two recommendations to be submitted to the Klamath County commissioners. The group suggested that each commissioner should engage with ODFW crews when depredation investigations are being conducted to gain firsthand experience of the toll livestock loss has on producers.

    Additionally, they encouraged commissioners to engage at the state legislative level to encourage maintaining funding for wolf and animal control programs.



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