The Blue Mountain eagle. (John Day, Or.) 1972-current, August 07, 2019, Image 1

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Blue Mountain
Grant County’s newspaper since 1868
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
151st Year • No. 32 • 18 Pages • $1.50
Bulls killed, mutilated at Silvies Valley Ranch
Sheriff, state
police are
By Sierra Dawn McClain
EO Media Group
Five bulls were found
dead and mutilated — with
genitals and tongues cut out
— on Silvies Valley Ranch in
Harney County.
Two carcasses were dis-
covered July 30. On July 31,
three more carcasses were
found. The smell of decom-
posing bodies gave them
The cause of death is
unknown, but investigators
suspect one or more people
are responsible.
The Harney County Sher-
iff’s Offi ce has named Dep-
uty Dan Jenkins as the pri-
mary investigator for the case.
The Oregon State Police and
the Malheur National Forest
Emigrant Creek Ranger Dis-
trict are also investigating.
“I got stuck with the case,”
Jenkins said. He laughed
wryly. “And it’s a mystery.”
As an isolated incident, the
case might appear a strange
fl uke. But according to the
Federal Bureau of Investi-
gation, thousands of killings
and mutilations of cows have
happened since the 1970s.
The animals typically die in
the same way with the same
body parts removed.
Jenkins said it’s hard to
tell how these fi ve bulls died.
There are no entry wounds.
A metal detector revealed no
According to climate data
from the National Weather
Service, the past month
has had no major lightning
storms in the area that could
have killed cattle.
Colby Marshall, vice pres-
ident of Silvies Valley Ranch,
said there were no outward
signs of a struggle — no rope
burns on trees, no scattered
hoof prints, no strangulation
marks. The bulls, he said,
Capital Press
See Bulls, Page A18
One of the fi ve mutilated bulls discovered July 31 in Malheur
National Forest about 20 miles north of Burns, Ore.
Wolves seen in Keeney Meadows
No evidence
of breeding or
By Richard Hanners
Blue Mountain Eagle
wo wolves seen east
of Highway 395 and
north of Mt. Vernon
don’t appear to have bred,
and there’s been no evidence
of livestock depredations.
According to Ryan Platte
at the Oregon Department of
Fish and Wildlife’s John Day
Field Offi ce, trappers fi rst
reported seeing two black
wolves in the Hog Creek and
Long Creek Mountain area
during the past winter.
ODFW personnel found
the wolf tracks in the snow
and set up trail cameras.
There were no hits until June
after the cameras were relo-
cated, Platte said. First they
had a photo of a single wolf,
then another photo with
another wolf and fi nally a
sequence of one and then the
other, he said.
A rancher working on a
fence in the Keeney Mead-
ows area reported in June
seeing one wolf for sure and
maybe a second, Platte said.
believes the two are a male
and female because one is
larger than the other. No pups
have been photographed by
the trail cameras, which are
checked about every two
weeks, he said.
Wolves can range over a
wide area, especially if they
are in a small group and are
not denning, Platte said. A
wolf that was collared in the
Desolation Creek area north
of Keeney Meadows ranged
from the Elkhorn Mountains
Contributed photo
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife trail cameras caught photos of two wolves in the
Keeney Meadows area north of Mt. Vernon.
near Granite all the way west
to Service Creek near Fos-
sil and south to the Middle
Fork of the John Day River,
he said.
ODFW offi cials won’t
provide detailed informa-
tion on the location of the
wolves, such as GPS data or
the site of trail cameras, in
order to protect the wolves,
Platte said. Offi cials have
met with ranchers holding
grazing allotments in the
area and spoke to them about
the sightings and state regu-
lations governing wolves.
ODFW is the fi rst to hear
about wolf attacks on live-
stock, and so far the agency
has received no depredation
reports involving the Kee-
ney Meadows wolves, Platte
said. With only two wolves
in the group, the impact on
elk and deer would be too
small to detect in the fi eld,
he said.
In addition to the Keeney
Meadows pair, the two to
three wolves in the Desola-
tion Creek area and a “pair”
in the Heppner area north-
west of Desolation Creek,
there was a report of a wolf
sighting in the Logan Valley
area last year, Platte said.
Archers who had set up
trail cameras in the Logan
Valley area reported see-
ing a black wolf, and video
supplied to ODFW con-
fi rmed the report, Platte
said. ODFW also confi rmed
a wolf attack on a calf in
Logan Valley last fall.
ODFW heavily moni-
tored the Logan Valley area
after the attack but found
no signs of a wolf, Platte
said. That winter, ODFW
received two reports of wolf
tracks seen in the snow in the
Murderers Creek area, which
were confi rmed by ODFW
personnel who responded to
the site.
Making adjustments
Matt Jones, a Mt. Ver-
non rancher with 80 cows on
a 7,000-acre grazing allot-
ment in the Keeney Mead-
ows area, said locals have
suspected wolves were in
the area for the past decade.
At least fi ve different people
said they saw a wolf in the
past 5-10 years, he said.
So far, Jones has had no
wolf or other predator prob-
lems. Coyotes are too small
to take anything more than
a sick calf with an inatten-
tive mother, and cougars are
more interested in deer, he
Jones said ODFW offi -
cials told him to immedi-
ately cover any cow carcass
he fi nds with a tarp to pre-
vent it from being eaten by
other predators and then call
ODFW. The carcass can then
be examined to determine if
it was killed by a wolf. He
was also told to remove the
Contributed image
This map from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
shows an approximation of the range occupied by two
wolves confi rmed to be in the Keeney Meadows area north
of Mt. Vernon.
carcass soon so it wouldn’t
attract wolves or other pred-
ators to the area.
The grazing area is so
large that fi nding a cow car-
cass is diffi cult, Jones said.
In the past 15 years, he’s
only lost one calf, which he
never found so he’s not sure
what happened to it.
Jones said ODFW offi -
cials are reluctant to blame
cow deaths on wolves and
will offer other explanations.
But if he’s missing cows
at the end of this season,
that could be evidence that
wolves are to blame, he said.
Jones said he’s concerned
about the wolf reintroduction
program in Oregon but feels
pretty helpless about it. All
he can do is be out with his
cows, he said. Using guard
dogs is not advised as cows
will lose their natural instinct
to fi ght back against wolves,
he said.
Jones said he expects the
problem will get worse as
more wolves move to East-
ern Oregon and eventu-
ally form packs. The two in
Keeney Meadows are prob-
ably looking for a home, he
See Wolves, Page A18
Another wild horse plan for Murderers Creek
Comment period
for latest proposal
closes Aug. 17
tory,” the scoping document
states. “Increased impacts
have become an issue in
recent years, with degrada-
tion to resources and safety
concerns. Confl icts have
occurred between wild horses
and private land commercial
horse breeding and livestock
By Richard Hanners
Blue Mountain Eagle
The Forest Service and
Bureau of Land Management
are seeking comments for a
wild horse management plan
for an area that has seen mul-
tiple plans and projects and
a lawsuit alleging the agen-
cies blamed cattle for riparian
damage that could be blamed
on wild horses and elk.
The Murderers Creek
Wild Horse Territory and
Herd Management Area Plan
calls for maintaining herd
Management area
Eagle fi le photo
A helicopter was used to drive wild horses into corrals during
a gather in the Murderers Creek area in August 2010.
population at 50-140 horses
“to achieve a thriving nat-
ural ecological balance of
resources and ensure the
health and genetic variability
of the herd.”
“Wild horses are impact-
ing federal lands as well
as private and state lands
within and outside the terri-
The Murderers Creek
management area was estab-
lished in 1972 following pas-
sage of the Wild Free-Roam-
ing Horses and Burros Act in
1971, which requires the For-
est Service and Bureau of
Land Management maintain
a “thriving natural ecologi-
cal balance” and multiple-use
relationship on public lands.
The management area
encompasses 108,488 acres
of federal land north of the
Izee Highway, south of
Aldrich Mountain, east of the
South Fork of the John Day
River and west of Flagtail
The management area
includes 92 miles of streams
designated critical habitat
for Middle Columbia River
steelhead, which are listed as
threatened under the Endan-
gered Species Act.
The area also includes the
Phillip W. Schneider Wild-
life Area managed by the
state, summer and winter
See Plan, Page A18