While judges on the Oregon Court of Appeals consider whether to authorize state biologists to kill two wolves for preying on livestock, the Imnaha pack has been going about its business, producing four pups this spring.
At least two and perhaps all four of the packs in northeastern Oregon have produced pups this year, bringing Oregon closer to a milestone in restoring the predators that were wiped out to protect livestock.
But the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is still a long way from winning over ranchers to the idea of more wolves, largely because of ranchers’ frustrations over the lawsuit filed by conservation groups.
The groups sued after the department issued a kill order last fall for two Imnaha wolves for killing cattle. The order has been suspended while the groups’ challenge is heard in court.
“The environmental groups and the ranchers helped craft this (Oregon Wolf Management Plan), and we’re trying to live by the wolf plan and the environmentalists sue,” said Bill Moore, a cattle rancher in Baker County and past president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. “If they’d taken care of the problem when they could have, we wouldn’t have problem wolves teaching these pups to kill sheep and cattle.”
Following GPS positions from radio collars on wolves, biologists two and a half weeks ago walked in a rendezvous site for the Imnaha pack on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the den site for the Wenaha pack on the Umatilla National Forest, said Russ Morgan, wolf coordinator for the state wildlife department. Four pups, each about 6 weeks old, were spotted with each pack.
Morgan said the four pups with the Wenaha pack looked at him for a moment, then went into their den. There were no adults around.