Friday, October 21, 2016

Wolf attacks frustrate Fort Klamath rancher

A Fort Klamath rancher who had four steers killed by wolves in less than three weeks is frustrated by the lack of protections for cattle, especially in the Wood River Valley. “This valley, with so many cattle, is going to be like a smorgasbord for the wolves. They’ll take the animals that put up the least resistance,” worries Bill Nicholson, third-generation owner of the Nicholson Ranch, where the deaths, verified by state Fish and Game biologists as wolf kills, took place. The most recent confirmation was received Thursday from Roblyn Brown, Oregon State Department of Fish and Wildlife acting wolf program coordinator, for a steer believed to have been killed either Sunday or Monday night. Its partially eaten carcass was found Wednesday after Butch Wampler, who oversees the ranch’s cattle, spotted large numbers of circling crows and rode to the scene. In addition, a steer that had been attacked by a wolf several days earlier died of its injuries either late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. “You feel helpless when you don’t have a means of protecting your animals,” Nicholson said, referring to the status of wolves. During the spring and summer, upward of 35,000 head of cattle are trucked to the Wood River Valley to graze on the nutrient-rich grasslands. Most have been trucked out of the area to winter grazing areas, predominately in far northern California. The Nicholson Ranch, pastures about 1,300 cattle from DeTar, a ranch in Dixon, Calif., each summer. Nicholson said there are still about 300 to 400 steers on his ranch and estimates about 5,000 cows, calves and yearlings are still in the enclosed valley. While the focus has been on the wolf killing, Nicholson said a potentially more serious problem stems from stress caused by the attacks, noting, “You’re losing a lot of pounds with the stress. Cattlemen estimate the average steer will gain about 3 to 4 pounds a day feeding on irrigated pasture known for its nutritious blend of sedges, rushes, grasses, forbes and clover. Because of the presence of wolves, Nicholson and Wampler said that instead of bedding down over relatively wide areas, cattle have been bunched up in groups, often standing. “The stress on the herd is another factor, and probably more costly,” Nicholson said, noting stress impacts weight gains and could reduce values for leased lands. Nicholson was told that wolves repeatedly bite cattle, which causes them to hemorrhage, go into shock and then die. “They can be still alive but the wolf eats them until they die,” he said. “They (wolves) go right inside to the chest cavity and the first thing they eat are the heart and the lungs.” “It’s death by a thousand bites,” Collom said of deaths caused by wolves, which typically relentlessly bite soft tissue areas...more

No comments: