Oregon wildlife officials killed four wolves in northeastern Oregon Thursday after determining they are responsible for killing too many livestock.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday that information transmitted from collared wolves in the Imnaha pack allowed the agency to confirm that four pack members have been chronically preying on livestock.
The agency says it’s confirmed five such incidents on private land within the past three weeks – sufficient under Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan to prompt the killing (described by officials as “lethal removal”) of wolves in the Imnaha pack.
“Unfortunately members of the Imnaha wolf pack are once again involved in chronic livestock depredation, and ODFW is adhering to the plan and protecting the interests of area livestock producers,” said Russ Morgan, the department's wolf coordinator, in a press release.
Morgan said spring is typically the time when depredation increases.
“Even more cattle and sheep will be on these private lands soon as calving and lambing season continues, increasing the risk for even more losses from this group of depredating wolves,” he said.
Amaroq Weiss from the Center for Biological Diversity said it was especially upsetting because the Imnaha pack was the first established in Oregon after one of the wolves that was killed — known as OR-4 — crossed over from Idaho in 2008.
"It is a tragedy that one of those founding members is now facing a death sentence. It’s a very sad moment," she said.
OR-4 is the father of wolf OR-7, the Oregon-born wolf that made international headlines by dispersing to California and becoming the first confirmed wild wolf in that state in nearly 90 years.
The other three wolves ordered killed are OR-39, which is OR-4’s mate, and two yearling pups from last year’s litter.
Wildlife advocates have been critical of a delayed review of Oregon's wolf plan and decried the decision to kill wolves.
“ODFW should not be killing members of the Imnaha Pack, or any wolves for that matter, while the wolf plan remains under review and out of date,” said Oregon Wild Executive Director Sean Stevens in a statement posted to his organization’s website.