Wolf blamed in deaths of two calves in Siskiyou County
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has reported its second confirmed case this year of wolves killing livestock.
Five calves were attacked and injured last month on a private ranch in eastern Siskiyou County, and two of the cattle had to be euthanized, according to the state.
While there were other reports of possible gray wolf attacks on livestock this year, the only other confirmed killing was in May. That incident happened in eastern Plumas County when an adult cow was killed, according to a state Fish and Wildlife report.
Kent Laudon, a wolf specialist with the state, said DNA evidence indicates the calves injured in October were attacked by OR-103, a wolf that was born in Oregon and migrated to California in May of this year.
There is a wolf family, known as the Whaleback Pack, which lives in the area where the calves were injured, but it appears OR-103 acted alone, he said.
Laudon said he has been in contact with ranchers in the area. The rancher who owned the two calves that were killed has begun penning up his cattle and they have installed "fladry," which is flagging or strips of fabric hung from a fence line, intended to ward off wolves.
Ranchers in the area have spread the word about the recent wolf attacks and are on the lookout for signs of wolves, he said. No one, though, has attempted to shoot or harm wolves, he said.
Under the California Endangered Species Act wolves are protected from harassment and harm, even if they attack livestock, according to the state.
Gray wolves were hunted to extinction in California in the 1920s. But in 2011, a wolf known as OR-7 made headlines when he migrated from Oregon to California, becoming what officials believe was the first of his species to live in the state in more than 80 years.
There are currently three packs in California. The Lassen Pack lives in western Lassen and northern Plumas counties. The Whaleback Pack lives in eastern Siskiyou County and the Beckwourth Pack lives in southern Plumas County.
There have been several other lone wolves that have traveled from Oregon to California. One of those wolves is OR-93.
He entered California from Oregon in January 2021 and has traveled hundreds of miles throughout the state, according to the fish and wildlife department. He has been spotted as far south as San Luis Obispo County.
OR-7, though, has gone missing, according to state officials.
After traveling through several North State counties, he returned to Oregon in 2013 and formed the Rogue Pack.
However, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported this past summer that OR-7 was no longer with the Rogue Pack and "his fate was unknown."
More:Pandemic? Fires? Drought? How the gray wolf continues to thrive in California
As the number of wolves in the state grows, Laudon said he and other officials work with ranchers to provide them with information on how best to protect their livestock.
If ranchers believe a wolf is in the area, there are steps they can take, such as penning cattle or sheep at night, quickly removing animal carcasses, feeding at night to gather livestock together, hiring a range rider or using guard dogs, according to the department's website.
"So in hopefully having relationships, they trust the information that I'm giving them, and I'm trying to help the best I can," he said.
Some states have programs that compensate ranchers for the cost of livestock killed by wolves, but that hasn't been implemented in California, Laudon said.
While there have been two confirmed wolf attacks that left three cattle dead this year, the department reported wolves also probably also attacked two calves in northeast Siskiyou County in June.
One of the calves had to be euthanized, according to the state. The other animal was treated for its injuries, according to a department report.
One rancher in eastern Siskiyou County reported a possible wolf attack, but DNA evidence gathered from the injured calf showed it was killed by a coyote, according to the state.
More:Reward in shooting of endangered gray wolf in California increased to $7,500
Wolf attacks are not common in California, considering wolves spend a great deal of their time in areas where cattle live, Laudon said.
"One of the interesting things about wolves is they travel throughout the western United States. They travel through cattle all the time, on a near nightly routine. And it's interesting that on occasion, when they do that they kill cattle," Laudon said.
"So it happens to a lesser degree than I think what a lot of people would think. But you know, having said that, five injured cows is a really big deal," he said of the calves attacked in October.
More:Gray wolf from Oregon is the second to enter California's Siskiyou County in 2021
Damon Arthur is part of a team of journalists who investigate wrongdoing and find the unheard voices to tell the stories of the North State. He welcomes story tips at 530-338-8834 and email@example.com. Help local journalism thrive by subscribing today!