By Dylan J. Darling

The Bulletin

Not able to quickly put together a program to remove piles of cattle bones, Crook County has given the state back a grant for deterring wolf activity.

“I’m not just going to spend money, because we have it,” Seth Crawford, a Crook County commissioner, said earlier this month. “I want to do it in an effective way.”

Crook County was planning to use the $3,000 grant to fund a program to remove bone piles, or places where ranchers dispose of cattle carcasses. The bone piles could attract wolves, and although there are no known wolves in Crook County, they have passed through from Northeast Oregon in recent years. The program’s goal was to remove 20 bone piles, either by burying the bones or hauling them to the landfill.

Crook County applied for the grant last August and received the money in early October. The county had until Jan. 31 to spend all the money or send it back, said Jason Barber, a program area director with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Barber said Crook County notified him late last year that it would be sending the money back.

“I think they just ran out of time between September and December,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture in 2011 started the Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Program, awarding grants to counties with an established wolf committee. Crook and Jefferson counties are among the 11 counties statewide with a wolf committee.

Returning the money now shouldn’t effect the county’s chances of getting a grant in the next round, which is next month, Barber said.

Crook County probably will apply again for bone pile grant, said Eric Blaine, Crook’s assistant county counsel.

“There is always a concern with grants that you either spend it or you don’t get any more,” Blaine said. “But (the Department of Agriculture) has indicated that is not the case with these funds.”

Crook County isn’t the only county to return money from the supplemental grants, Barber said. There are five counties that received portions of the $37,782 in supplemental grants last fall: Crook, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla and Wallowa counties.

Malheur’s grant was for $2,990 to cover a fladry program, where flagging is put on fences to spook wolves. Barber said the county returned $220 of the grant. Morrow, which received $760 for bone pile removal and fladry, and Wallowa, which received $15,532 for fladry and range riders, spent all their funds. The riders patrol rangeland to see whether there is any wolf activity. Barber said he’s still waiting to hear from Umatilla as to whether the county spent all of its $15,500, which was also for fladry and range riders.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,