Sisters Country rancher seeks compensation for wolf depredation

 

Last updated 3/5/2024 at 9:12am

Graphic provided

Area of Known Wolf Activity

Long Hollow Ranch sits on 12,000 acres across two counties. Its main entrance is on Holmes Road in the heart of Sisters Country. The most visible part of the operation is its wedding and event venue but behind the bucolic setting are cows. Hundreds of them. The ranch also sits on an AKWA (Area of Known Wolf Activity).

Long Hollow is claiming the loss of seven cows to wolves beginning in February of 2023 with the most recent loss last year between May and July when two calves went missing. One of the five (four in the Deschutes County claim) on February 28, 2023, was an 800-pound dairy heifer. All the others were in the range of 350 to 600 pounds.

Ashanti Samuels, Long Hollow owner, did not wish to speak on the record.

On July 19, 2022, a new AKWA was designated in the Upper Deschutes wildlife management unit. Since August of 2021, there have been public reports of wolf activity in this area and one wolf was counted in the 2021 annual count. Remote camera photographs of an adult wolf with pups taken in July 2022 established that wolves have become resident in this area, prompting the designation of this AKWA.

In April of last year, six wolves were counted in the Upper Deschutes pack during the winter count. The pack produced at least two pups that survived until the end of the year and was recorded as including a breeding pair. This pack is far south of Sisters Country.

This AKWA and these wolves are not to be confused with the Metolius AKWA or the Warm Springs AKWA, each with two documented wolves, both presumed, but not confirmed, to be breeding pairs. These packs are generally thought to remain within their boundaries but wolves can often cover 30 miles in a day.

Long Hollow has two confirmed kills, one on the Deschutes side of their land and the other on the Jefferson County side. Confirmed depredation means an ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife) biologist has inspected the loss and certified it.

Aaron Bott, ODFW wolf biologist, explained to The Nugget how a claim can be made for more livestock lost than certified. "Under Oregon Department of Agriculture rules, if losses occur on a farm or ranch inside an AKWA, then other methods can be used to determine loss. If the loss is outside an AKWA then the state biologist has to certify the loss to receive compensation."

Compensation also requires a full-fledged, functioning county Wolf Compensation Committee, which Deschutes County established last June. Various stakeholders are required under Oregon law to comprise the committee.

Sisters Country is well represented on the committee. Owners or managers of livestock members are Ethan O'Brien, co-owner North 44 Farm LLC, and Johnny Leason, owner Pineridge Ranch Hay & Cattle LLC on Goodrich Road.

Supporters of Wolf Conservation and Coexistence with Wolves members are Sarahlee Lawrence, owner and operator of Rainshadow Organics, also on Holmes Road, and Donna Harris, Core Member of Sisters-based Wolf Welcome Committee. Phil Chang is the designated County Commissioner assigned to the committee.

Long Hollow's claim to the Committee is $10,743. Being that all but one of the losses was not certified by ODFW, their application for relief included all the supporting mitigation measures the ranch had taken which included removal of attractants, installation of cameras, barriers, and range riders.

The County in turn has rolled that into a grant application to the state Agriculture Department for $77,000. The additional funding includes $45,000 for Long Hollow to cover one tower for invisible fencing, a one year lease on livestock collars, and a seasonal range rider for 200 days at four hours a day.

The grant also seeks $5,000 for education and outreach and $20,000 for preventative measures to be distributed to ranchers and livestock owners as requested in the upcoming calendar year.

 

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