Wolves kill 19 lambs on Oregon ranch

Wolves kill 19 lambs on Oregon ranch
A trail camera set up by USFWS and ODFW captured this photo of wolves at the site of a depredation of sheep in Baker County on April 13 at 3:05 a.m. Photo courtesy ODFW

BAKER CITY, Ore. — Wolf experts confirmed wolves killed 19 lambs on an Eastern Oregon ranch in the Keating Valley.

Michelle Dennehy with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said experts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have confirmed the lambs were killed by wolfs. A remote camera captured this scene of the wolves.

It's the first documented case of a rancher losing livestock to wolves in Oregon since the animals returned to the state.

Curt Jacobs (above) said the lambs on his ranch were killed, not eaten. (Photo courtesy S. John Collins/Baker City Herald)

Russ Morgan, the department's wolf coordinator, says paw tracks shaped like those of a canine were found on the ranch, too big to belong to a coyote but not quite so large as some wolf tracks found in a nearby forest.

Rancher Curt Jacobs told the Baker City Herald newspaper most of the lambs were killed but not eaten.

The last reported bounty on a wolf in Oregon was paid in 1946 for a wolf killed on the Umpqua National Forest, Dennehy said.

Last July, wildlife officials confirmed the existence of a wolf pack with pups in a forested area of northern Union County, north of where the lamb were killed place. This was the first evidence of a wolf pack and wolf reproduction in Oregon, Dennehy said. A collared wolf was detected in the state in January 2008.

Wolves started returning to Oregon from packs in Idaho in 1999, when a wolf dubbed B-45 crossed the Snake River into Baker County.

In May 2000, a wolf was found dead on Interstate 84 east of Baker City. The wolf had been hit by traffic. Later that year, an uncollared wolf was found shot to death near Ukiah, east of Baker City.

Wolves remain on the federal endangered species list but are scheduled to be de-listed in the eastern third of Oregon on May 4.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.