BUTTE FALLS, Ore. — On his 276-acre ranch in southern Oregon, Ted Birdseye has had enough. He bought the property almost five years ago and raises his 200 head of cattle as income.
Birdseye's ranch is in the heart of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. That's also where the Rogue pack's den is. The Rogue pack made famous by OR-7.
"They've had every litter of pups within six and a half miles of this place and wolves eat a lot of meat," Birdseye said from his Jackson County ranch.
Some of that meat just happens to be his baby calves. Birdseye has lost six calves in under five years. Some of those that were attacked were left to die.
"The last two calves, the dogs evidently ran those wolves off before they were able to kill those calves," Birdseye recounted. "I had to shoot the last two calves."
The Oregon Wolf Plan, adopted in 2005, essentially gives a guideline on how the state and ranchers can deal with wolves that come onto their property. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service follows those guidelines.
In Oregon, east of highways 395, 78 and 95. wolves are not on the endangered species list. That means if a wolf kills a rancher's livestock or animals, ODFW may, if all requirements are met, issue a permit for that wolf to be killed. Even then, it's not a guarantee.
Birdseye's ranch sits in southwestern Oregon and because his ranch is on the western side of the state, his only option is using non-lethal measures.
"I can try and scare them off, but I can't do them any bodily harm," Birdseye said. "We can haze them, we can chase them, we can try and get them off the place."
With wolves being such a problem, Birdseye said he has had problems sleeping at night.
"From September on, there was no sleep to think of because the wolves howl between 2 and 4 a.m.," Birdseye recalled. "Even if they don't howl, you still wake up at 2 o'clock going, 'Are the wolves gonna howl tonight?' It's been really frustrating trying to get a decent night's sleep."
His ranch is fully fenced. There's an electric wire around it and red tags called fladry hang from it. The tags blow in the wind and the movement is supposed to scare off the wolves, but even that was not completely working.
"We've tried everything that is out there on the table." he said.
After the latest kill in January, he came up with a new solution: an inflatable, wavy man. Just like the kind you see at the car lots.
Birdseye is aware of how silly it looks.
"It sounds almost humorous and ridiculous to have these dancing men out here," he said.
It's a temporary fix. Wolves are smart animals and will soon learn it's not a threat.
Birdseye wishes the wolves weren't on the endangered list, so he had other options.
"I do believe I ought to be able to shoot wolves if they're on my place harassing my livestock," he said.
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife conducts an annual wolf count and says it is in the middle of completing the 2018 count. In 2017, there were at least 124 wolves in the state.