Crook County to receive new wolf grant

By Dylan J. Darling The Bulletin

Crook County is again set to receive state money to spend on removing piles of cattle bones that could attract wolves.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has tentatively approved a $3,000 grant for the rural Central Oregon county as part of the state’s effort to prevent and respond to wolf attacks on livestock.

“The emphasis has been on preventing wolf depredation,” said Bruce Pokarney, a Department of Agriculture spokesman.

The county received the same amount last fall during a supplemental round of funding, but sent it back to the state after the Crook County Wolf Committee wasn’t able to organize a program and spend the money by a state deadline. The goal of the program last fall was to remove bone piles, or places where ranchers dispose of cattle carcasses.

The new grant probably will be used for the same purpose, said Seth Crawford, a Crook County commissioner and a member of the county Wolf Committee. The original plan was to remove 20 bone piles by either hauling them to the landfill or burying them.

Wolves were wiped out in Oregon following state-sponsored hunts in the mid-1900s. Since being reintroduced into Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s, wolves have spread west. The latest estimate by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows at least 64 wolves in eight packs around Oregon, mostly in the northeast corner of the state. Lone wolves, young males looking for new territory, have passed through Central Oregon in recent years.

The grant for Crook County comes as part of $150,000 in Department of Agriculture grants to counties to contend with wolves this year, Pokarney said. Eight counties are receiving grants — Crook, Baker, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler.

Most of the money is going to counties in northeastern Oregon, and more than two-thirds of it will go toward preventing wolf attacks on livestock.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812, ddarling@bendbulletin.com