According to a report from long-time Rogue Valley Rancher, Alan Pingle, there is a new resident here now. Pingle and another ranch hand witnessed a wolf stalking a herd of elk near the intersection of Meridian Road and Highway 140 on Friday, December 16. The lone animal was first spotted at about 400 yards distance as it worked its way closer to a herd of more than 105 elk–they quit counting at that number– slumbering in one of the fields.
Pingle said they watched as the animal dropped into an irrigation ditch, later to re-appear much closer to the elk. At that point it lay in the open field in sight of the elk.
Both men questioned what they saw, at first thinking it was a deer, but after seeing it move, they realized they were looking at a wolf. And not one of the animals that used to live in the Rogue Valley, but an animal that had to have weighed at least 150 pounds. Later, Pingle said, the other man saw the animal again, this time from approximately 100 yards, close enough to see for certain what it was.
Tracking on the now-famous OR-7, that seems to have settled in the area east of Butte Falls, has not shown him to be so close to civilization. But this one, which the men said was too far to see if it was wearing a collar, has staked out territory approximately 5 1/2 miles east of White City. While there is a large herd of elk known to live in the areas, there are other animals too, mainly livestock.
The ranch owner, who also owns ranch property in Idaho. Told Pingle that hunting in Idaho has become a waste of time since the re-introduction of the wolf. There simply are no elk left in traditional hunting areas. Reports from Yellowstone have shown a significant reduction in herds there too.
Some reports have said that wolves in the area have a greater impact on cattle than just the taking of an occasional animal. Wolves stress the herds so much that reproduction rates have dropped, forage areas have been left under utilized with a result of less finish on cattle, and ranchers are having a difficult working cattle with dogs. Couple that with elk herds depletion, and the impact of this experiment is quite costly.
By Ralph McKechnie
For the Independent