For the second time in as many weeks, wildlife officials are investigating whether wolves are to blame for preying on cattle at the Mill-Mar Ranch in Jackson County, Ore.
John Stephenson, Oregon wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said a second dead calf was found early Wednesday morning at the ranch south of Prospect.
An investigation is underway into whether the animal was killed by wolves. No determination has been announced yet, though Stephenson said GPS collar data show OR-54, a member of the Rogue pack, was in the area.
Investigators confirmed wolves from the Rogue pack killed one calf at the same ranch overnight on Jan. 3. Stephenson arrived Jan. 10 to put up more fladry around the property when he discovered the second dead animal.
Rancher Ted Birdseye said he is concerned about wolf predation becoming a chronic problem for his herd.
“I hope (wolves) don’t come in once a week over the next few months,” he said. “There’s nothing I can really do about it.” Wolves are listed as federal endangered species west of highways 395, 78 and 95 in Oregon.
Birdseye said the most recent dead calf weighed between 350 and 400 pounds.
“It was devoured,” he said. “All that was left was skin, bones and the head.”
Before the first confirmed attack, Stephenson, with the USFWS, said wolves had been frequenting the ranch property for several years. He said the agency will be stepping up nonlethal deterrents, such as fladry and flashing strobe lights, to keep wolves away from the livestock.
Birdseye, who serves on the Jackson County wolf compensation committee, said the losses are eating into his bottom line.
“The margin of making any kind of money in this business is slim,” he said.