Wolves Kill Pet Dog in Oregon

Wolves in Oregon have killed a working dog on a ranch in Oregon, prompting an investigation by wildlife management authorities in the state.

The wolves belonged to the established Keating pack in Baker County and targeted a ranch in the Keating Valley area.

The attack took place on Friday, January 14. The wolves are believed to have been attracted to a cattle ranch close to Highway 86 by the carcasses of six unburied cows, an official with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department (OFWD) told The Oregonian.

The dog they targeted was a 40-pound Australian Kelpie herding dog, the owner said.

According to a statement from the OFWD, published by the Elkhorn Media Group, the dog had suffered from at least 15 bites. Its injuries were "consistent with wolf attack injuries on dogs." The dog's body had been scavenged, with most of its organs and muscle tissue missing.

Baker City OFWD Biologist Brian Ratliff told The Oregonian that burying all animal carcasses was a key way to avoid depredation incidents such as this in the state. "That's the number one thing you can do to keep wolves away," he said.

The Keating pack are a known wolf pack in the north-east of Oregon and several pack members wear electronic tags.

Ratliff said a signal from a tracking collar on one of the animals located the pack in the vicinity of the ranch where the dog was killed on January 14.

An OFWD spokesperson told Newsweek landowners and residents should take various measures in order to minimize depredation by wild predators such as wolves. They said people who live in areas where wolf activity is known can take preventative measures to minimize conflict.

"We recommend that livestock producers remove all attractants (bonepiles and carcasses) to reduce the amount of time wolves spend near their homes, winter livestock feeding pastures and calving and lambing pastures," the spokesperson said.

The OFWD said that if attacks by predators become "chronic," then lethal control measures can be implemented. "ODFW's ability to lethally remove depredating wolves will be dependent on the extent that non-lethal measures have been used and documented," it said.

However, the authority said there remained the issue of wolf poaching in the state.

"Poaching of wolves and other wildlife is a problem in Oregon and this year we had some terrible cases including the poisoning of Catherine Creek wolf pack. Until we find the culprit, it's hard to know the motivation but yes it could be a problem," the OFWD spokesperson said.

North-east Oregon has witnessed other cases of a clash between wolves and humans in recent weeks.

On January 8, a two-year-old collared wolf was shot dead in Wallowa County, prompting an investigation by Oregon State Police. The animal, known as OR 106, was found close to Parsnip Creek RD.

OFWD estimated there were 173 wolves living in Oregon at the end of 2020. Wolves are classified as a protected species in the state. They were taken off Oregon's Endangered Species list in 2015.

This article has been updated to include quotes from an OFWD spokesperson.

Stock image of a grey wolf
A stock image of a grey wolf. The animals are considered a protected species in Oregon. ClassicStock / Contributor/Getty Images