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Reward offered for information on wolf’s death

In this Dec. 4, 2014, file photo, a wolf from the Snake River Pack passes by a remote camera in Wallowa County. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information about the killing of wolf OR-103, which was found near upper Klamath Lake in October. [Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, File]

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for the death of a federally protected gray wolf in Klamath County.

FWS officials announced Thursday that a radio-collared male gray wolf known as OR-103 was found dead Oct. 6 near Upper Klamath Lake.

“It is a violation of the Endangered Species Act to kill a gray wolf, which is listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of Oregon,” a FWS statement said. It noted the incident is being investigated by FWS with the assistance of Oregon State Police.

Anyone with information about this case should call the FWS at 503-682-6131 or the Oregon State Police tip line at 800-452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.

OR-103 was an adult male wolf originally captured after he was injured in a coyote leghold trap in July 2021. After FWS biologists determined his injuries were not serious, he was fitted with a GPS radio collar and released.

The wolf later was found in the Keno area west of Klamath Falls. As a result, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife designated a new “area of known wolf activity,” or AKWA, in the Keno management unit of Klamath County.

In making the designation, ODFW officials said OR-103 originally dispersed into Northern California and resided there until returning to Oregon in July 2022. According to a news release, “The recent localized movement indicates the wolf is now resident in Klamath County.”

The AKWA includes large private ranches and industrial timberland used for cattle grazing from the spring through fall. The area is bordered on the west by the Mountain Lakes Wilderness and on the east by Upper Klamath Lake.

Earlier this year, ODFW said OR-103 killed three cattle in the Doak Mountain area near Klamath Falls. There were several reports of OR-103 being sighted standing alongside roadways, including Highway 140 in the Doak Mountain area.

Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are the largest wild members of Canidae, or dog family, with adults ranging in weight from 40 to 175 pounds, depending on sex and geographic locale. Gray wolves have a circumpolar range, including North America, Europe and Asia.

In recent years, gray wolves have been seen in Southern Oregon and far Northern California, most notably the Rogue Pack in areas of Jackson and Klamath counties. This year, the Rogue Pack is blamed for the deaths of about a dozen cattle grazing in the Fort Klamath area.

According to FWS, the wide range of habitats in which wolves can thrive “reflects their adaptability as a species and includes temperate forests, mountains, tundra, taiga, grasslands and deserts. In North America, wolves are primarily predators of medium- and large-hooved mammals such as moose, elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, caribou, muskox and bison” along with cattle.

“Gray wolves have long legs that are well adapted to running, allowing them to move fast and travel far in search of food, and large skulls and jaws that are well suited to catching and feeding on large mammals. Wolves also have keen senses of smell, hearing and vision, which they use to detect prey and one another. Pelt color varies in wolves more than in almost any other species, from white to grizzled gray to brown to coal black.”

Historically, FWS notes that during the early 1900s, predator-control programs resulted in the elimination of wolves throughout most of the lower 48 states, with the exception of northeast Minnesota.

Gray wolves originally were listed under the Endangered Species Act as subspecies or as regional populations of subspecies in the contiguous United States and Mexico. In 1978, FWS reclassified the gray wolf as endangered at the species level throughout the contiguous United States and Mexico, except for gray wolves in Minnesota, which were classified as threatened. The Northern Rocky Mountains population was delisted due to recovery in 2011, except for Wyoming which was delisted in 2017. Remaining wolf populations in the contiguous United States were delisted due to recovery in 2021.”

Rogue Pack cattle predation continues

The Rogue wolf pack, which travels between Klamath and Jackson counties, has been blamed for injuring a cow on private land in the Wood River Valley of Klamath County.

According to a press release from ODFW, the injury took place Nov. 26, when a cow was killed. Information about the injury was not released until Thursday, Dec. 15. Under recently enacted ODFW policy, only very incomplete information is provided with few details.

As stated on the department’s website, “When a livestock owner believes wolves caused the loss or injury of their livestock, ODFW uses an evidence-based investigation process to determine if wolves were involved. The goal is not to determine the livestock animal’s cause of death, as in some cases that could require a veterinary pathologist (e.g., illness, injury, age, poisonous plants).

“When doing an investigation, ODFW closely examines the physical evidence (on the animal or the scene) to determine if the domestic animal was actually killed or injured by a predator — and not just scavenged by one after dying from another cause. If the death or injury is determined to be predator-caused, further examination is needed to determine if wolves (rather than coyotes, cougars, bears or domestic dogs) were responsible.

“Most confirmed wolf attacks show pre-mortem bite scrapes and severe tissue trauma in specific locations (rear hindquarters above the hock, elbows and flanks) on the animal. In some cases, livestock losses cannot be confirmed to be caused by wolves because there is not enough evidence. In others, an investigation finds the domestic animal died by an entirely different cause.

“In some counties in Oregon, USDA Wildlife Services assists ODFW when wolves are suspected and is the lead agency to investigate when other predators such as coyotes, bear or cougar are suspected. In some counties, sheriff’s deputies also attend investigations. ODFW needs to make the determination for lethal removal of chronically depredating wolves to be considered or if the livestock producer wants financial compensation from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.”

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