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Wolf Interaction: Livestock

The goal of Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan is to ensure the conservation of gray wolves as required by Oregon law while protecting the social and economic interests of all Oregonians. Minimizing wolf-livestock conflict and reducing livestock losses to wolves is an important part of the Wolf Plan.

Because wolves are protected by state and/or federal law, there are restrictions on what private landowners can do. If you see a wolf near your home or livestock, you are authorized under state and federal law to scare the animal off (by making loud noises for example) as long as your actions do not harm or injure the wolf in any way.

Under current law, it is unlawful to kill or harm a wolf attacking livestock, except with a permit.

If you believe a wolf has killed or injured livestock, take the following steps:

  • Do not move or disturb evidence.
  • Preserve wolf tracks, hair or scat by covering with plywood, weighted-down empty coffee cans or other material that won’t ruin the evidence.
  • Cover the carcass or any remains with a secured tarp to preserve them.
  • Call your local ODFW office or USDA Wildlife Services (541-963-7947) or a county official immediately so an investigation can begin and a cause can be determined.
  • Please note that ODFW must confirm that an incident is a wolf kill or injury in order to receive compensation in Oregon, or to authorize injurious harassment or lethal removal of wolves east of Hwys 395-78-95.

East of Hwys 395-78-95 (state management)

Responses to livestock depredation are guided by Oregon’s Wolf Plan and associated administrative rules. Non-lethal methods must be tried before any injurious or lethal control of wolves is permitted by ODFW. If non-lethal methods are ineffective, ODFW may authorize the killing of wolves to stop chronic livestock depredation.

West of Hwys 395-78-95 (federally listed)

Where wolves are federally listed as endangered, US Fish and Wildlife Service (not ODFW) decides the appropriate response to livestock depredation by wolves. The USFWS has authority to use a variety of methods to manage any wolves which attack or kill livestock or domestic animals. To determine appropriate actions after a wolf attack, USFWS will consider evidence from wounded or dead livestock and the likelihood of additional losses.

Proactive steps to minimize wolf-livestock conflict

Livestock producers in areas of wolf activity are encouraged to take preventive measures even before experiencing any wolf conflict. Taking preventive measures will count towards the authorization of injurious harassment or lethal take permits by ODFW. Preying on livestock can be a learned behavior and wolves that find an easy meal once may return. Where possible:

Haul away, burn or bury carcasses promptly. Wolves have a keen sense of smell and will easily find carcasses to scavenge. Getting rid of carcasses before wolves find them can reduce conflict. Wolves traveling through an area (e.g. not resident) are also less likely to stay if they cannot find an easy meal. If buried, carcasses should be covered with quicklime and by at least 4 feet of dirt.

When livestock are giving birth, keep them close to outbuildings or other human presence, which will often keep wolves away.

Consider the use of guard dogs. Talk to USDA, USFWS, an extension agent, or ODFW for a recommendation on breeds.

  • Remember dogs need human protection too so consider herders/range riders.
  • More than one dog is recommended; multiple dogs are more likely to deter wolves. Single guard dogs can be vulnerable to wolf attack.
  • Keep guard dogs and livestock away from den areas to reduce conflict. Wolves are especially territorial during breeding season (January-February), denning periods (April-May) or if wolf pups are nearby (new pups out of wolf dens April through June).

Erect barriers: Consider fencing certain operations (portable options exist), penning animals (especially at night), the use of fladry (a series of red or orange flags hung on a rope) or turbofladry (flags hung on electrified fence line). Talk to ODFW, USDA, USFWS or extension agent about the right barrier for your livestock operation.

Be aware of wolf activity in your area: Learn to recognize wolf sign and report it if you see it. Wildlife managers regularly contact livestock producers when there is resident wolf activity in their immediate area.

Investigate livestock behavior changes: There are many causes for changes in livestock herd temperament. If you detect changes (e.g., bunching animals, animals breaking through fences, livestock reacting around working dogs) take the time to look for wolf sign and report it if found.

Compensation Fund

The Oregon Department of Agriculture implements the Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Grant Program according to Oregon Administrative Rule 603-019. For more information contact the ODA Animal Health and Identification Division at (503)986-4680.

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