Four Rare Oregon Gray Wolves, Including Pregnant Female And Cubs, Killed After Pack Preyed On Livestock

Four rare gray wolves in Oregon were killed by state officials after they repeatedly preyed on livestock. A pregnant female wolf and two cubs were included in the killing as the state officials shot the alpha of the pack, which was relying on livestock for sustenance. It is believed the alpha could no longer catch food in the wild due to his old age. Therefore, state officials determined the pack should be put down, as they could not survive on wild game such as elk any longer.

The Daily Mail reports that four of the 110 rare gray wolves were killed by state officials after multiple attacks on livestock were reported. The officials were responding to calls that wolves had made five attacks on sheep and cows, at which point they made the decision to put down the pack responsible for the killing.

The department identified the alpha responsible for the killing as a wolf tagged OR-4. The alpha was once part of a larger pack but wildlife officials believe that due to the wolf’s age his pack was taken over by a younger male. Therefore, OR-4 left the pack along with his partner OR-39 and the pair’s two young cubs. With the aging alpha unable to hunt wild animals such as elk, the pack turned to easier prey such as sheep and cows. The state officials said that, after five livestock attacks in two weeks, they determined the pack must be put down.

The officials tracked the pack from a helicopter and shot OR-4, the pregnant female, and her two cubs. The Oregonian notes that this is the first time state officials have killed a gray wolf for killing livestock since 2011. Though many were upset over the killing of OR-4, it was noted that the gray wolf was well past his prime and likely would not have lived much longer. In fact, gray wolves in the wild typically live six to eight years, and OR-4 was already ten years of age, making him a senior citizen of the wolf community, which would account for the wolves’ unusual hunting grounds.

“It’s very possible he had been deposed and that’s why he was using a less-than-optimal area to hunt.”

Though state wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says the officials are always sad to see gray wolves killed, the livestock killing problem was becoming chronic, and the state decided it was time to take action. By Oregon law, state officials can kill the rare gray wolves after two attacks on livestock by the same pack. However, officials say that they typically wait to see if the problem is chronic and try not to kill wolves unless they can’t find alternate solutions. In the case of OR-4 and OR-39, Oregon state officials said they were left with no choice after so many attacks in such a small span of time.

“This is a really tough situation to be in, but it’s part of the responsibility of managers. We felt in this situation, the only logical move was to lethally remove these wolves.”

Though the agency said they had to kill the gray wolves due to the attacks, wolf conservationist Rob Klavins disagrees noting that it proves the agency works for private interests with taxpayer dollars.

“What was done was sufficient for an agency that views wildlife as agents of damage and whose primary job is to protect private interests at taxpayer expense. They need to do better. Oregonians deserve better.”

What do you think about Oregon wildlife officials killing the four rare gray wolves?

[Image via Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife]