ENTERPRISE, Ore.—In an effort to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts in Wallowa County, a new range rider will accompany cattle grazing in areas of the Imnaha wolf pack this summer.
The cooperative demonstration program between ODFW and area livestock producers is funded through a $15,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant intended to help livestock producers take pro-active, non-lethal measures to reduce the risk of wolves to livestock. While not a panacea, range riders have been shown to help reduce livestock losses to wolves in other states where they have been used.
ODFW will use part of the grant money to reimburse a livestock producer $4,950 for a range rider he is employing to monitor his cattle on public and private land, haze away any wolves near cattle, and help keep other area livestock producers informed about wolf activity. This range rider will also monitor other livestock producers’ cattle on private and national forestland when wolves are in the area.
ODFW will regularly share wolf location information with the range rider, who has also been equipped with a radio receiver to pick up signals from any of the three wolves in the Imnaha pack with a radio collar.
The range rider began patrolling forest allotments in the Imnaha Wildlife Management Unit on July 7, working from early daylight through dark on most days of the week. ODFW also continues to have an employee monitoring wolf activity in the area most evenings.
“This range rider is a first for Oregon’s wolf program,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “ODFW is committed to working with livestock producers to find practical solutions to wolf depredation.”
“This is a non-lethal measure to limit wolf-caused livestock losses that has not been tried in Oregon,” said Rod Childers, Oregon Cattleman’s Association wolf committee chairman. “We want to do this to try to limit livestock losses to wolves during the summer grazing season.”
"The Oregon project is unique in that it covers several of the livestock producers running cattle herds in the drainage,” said Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife, an organization that compensates ranchers for documented livestock losses at full fall market value and has funded range riders and other non-lethal deterrent projects like guard dogs, fencing, carcass removal, alarm systems, and alternative grazing locations in other states with wolves. “It’s a cooperative community-style effort that provides an important human presence, which has often been found to discourage wolves from preying on livestock.”
Defenders and ODFW are working on agreements that could put additional non-lethal projects on the ground in the future.
For more information on wolves in Oregon, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/