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Air Dancers no longer match for Rogue wolf pack


BUTTE FALLS — Gray wolf OR-7’s pack apparently is no longer wary of the “Air Dancer” inflatable tubes that have watched over Ted Birdseye’s cattle the past two months on his remote ranch near Boundary Butte.

Birdseye discovered a 400-pound calf dead from a wolf attack Saturday morning just minutes after seeing at least two adult wolves walking through part of his 276-acre ranch.

The one yellow and one green “dancing men” were flailing in the night when the calf was killed, Birdseye said Tuesday, minutes after the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released its report confirming the wolf attack and fingering OR-7’s pack that has run roughshod over Birdseye this winter.

“The dancing men have, essentially, failed,” Birdseye said. “Those wolves were within 40 yards of them. Those things were dancing away, and they just ignored them.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do now,” he said. “I had all my hopes in those dancing men.”

It was the 12th cattle or pet death pinned on the pack since September, and it joins a young guard dog killed a week earlier, according to the ODFW. Previous to that, Birdseye had no losses attributed to the wolves since he first fired up the Air Dancer generators Feb. 21.

But now that run is over, Birdseye said.

“It’s the same old story, and nobody has had a real answer,” Birdseye said.

The Rogue Pack and other wolves now in Western Oregon remain federally protected as endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Birdseye can apply for $1,000 compensation for his loss through Jackson County’s Wolf Advisory Committee, of which he is a member.

The two Air Dancers and generators to run them were donated to him by Defenders of Wildlife after a string of January livestock killings at his ranch, which has been ground zero for wolf attacks in Western Oregon.

As in many attacks, this one began when Birdseye’s dogs alerted him to the wolves’ presence around 4 a.m. He turned on the Air Dancers and drove a four-wheeler around the fields where the cattle are, he said.

This time, however, after dawn he spotted two separate adult wolves and perhaps one smaller one in fields near his residence, and they ambled away just before he spied the dead calf, Birdseye said.

Initially, Birdseye turned on the Air Dancers each night, but gas expenses and fear that the wolves would become desensitized to them led Birdseye to turn them on only when the wolves were present, he said.

Now not even that appears to be an option, said Birdseye, who has owned the property the past four years.

“It’s going to go on continuously,” he said. “It’s never going to end.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com.


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