$3,000 will be used to aid local ranchers in disposing of bone piles

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF ODFW - Bone piles left by cattle ranchers can attract wolves. Crook County is planning to use recently-acquired funds to aid ranchers in disposing of bone piles.

As wolves continue to move west into Oregon, local leaders are seeking ways to limit their presence and impact in Crook County.

Thanks to a recently-awarded grant, the Crook County Wolf Depredation Committee hopes to launch those efforts with in the next few months.

The committee was awarded a grant agreement between themselves and the Oregon Department of Agriculture for implementation of a wolf depredation program, said assistant county counsel Eric Blaine.

“Rocky Mountain wolves were reintroduced into Idaho and Montana several years ago,” he said. “Crook County does not have any wolves at this time, but we have a number of wolves that have passed through Crook County.”

Blaine went on to say that the grant is intended to facilitate processes and techniques that will reduce incidents of interactions between wolves and livestock and working dogs.

“In general, the idea when the wolf committee applied for this grant is to seek to remove bone piles from local ranches,” he said. “When bone piles can be buried or removed, there will be less of an attractant here in Crook County, and there will be fewer incidences, we hope, of wolves passing through in the first place, and less likelihood that there would be resident wolves establishing in Crook County.”

Crook County Commissioner and committee chair Seth Crawford pointed out that the grant stressed wolf control by non-lethal means, which prompted their proposed strategy.

“Through the research we have done . . . getting rid of bone piles is one of the best ways to deter wolves from coming to an area,” he said.

Crawford said they are working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine which ranches to focus on first. The committee plans to remove bone piles from about 20 ranches, and since the wolves are moving west from northeastern Oregon, he expects work to start in the Paulina area.

The committee determined that it will cost about $300 to remove each bone pile, with half the expense covered through a cost-share program with local cattle producers.

“That’s not cash out of the producer’s pocket,” Crawford stressed. “That can be done in-kind with their time or use of their equipment.”

Now that they have been awarded the grant and have a plan in place, the committee is not left with much time to launch the program. Blaine explained that the funds must be spent no later than Jan. 31, 2014.

“It’s not a whole lot of time for the wolf committee to implement these programs,” he said.

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