So far as I know, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife still plans to kill two of the few remaining wolves in our state. The guy in charge of the wolf management program at ODFW deserves a raise, because he must be getting lots of phone calls and letters from wolf-lovers and wolf-haters.
Today I listened to my wife, Laurel, leave a message on his voice mail. She isn't happy with the planned wolf killing, to put it mildly, and wasn't shy about forcefully expressing her opinion.
Which I share.
It seems ridiculous that wildlife officials are willing to risk extinguishing Oregon's fragile wolf population (this killing will eliminate a breeding pair, likely leaving none) because a few cattle may have been predated upon.
What's more important, losing a few cows/calfs when there are about 960,000 of them in this state, or losing two of fourteen wolves? Adding to the ridiculousness, ranchers are compensated for confirmed wolf kills, so money isn't the issue here.
This really is a battle for the wild soul of Oregon.
That might sound overly dramatic, but I stand by that statement. As would, I'm sure, the activists who chained themselves to the ODFW doors in Salem today in a protest against the unnecessary wolf killings.
Good for them. I took part in sit-ins against the Vietnam War way back in the 1960's. The war was unjust, just as the wolf killings are. Sometimes it is necessary to take a dramatic stand when authorities are unable or unwilling to hear the voice of reason.
Are you listening, ODFW? You have the word "wildlife" in your organization's name. Oregonians love their wilderness, and they love the wildlife who inhabit that wilderness. Wolves included.
Not all ranchers are as wolfphobic as Todd Nash, who requested that the pair of wolves be killed after he claimed some livestock losses. Nash is one of many "welfare ranchers" who are happy to use public grazing lands at an absurdly minimal cost, yet get upset when the public asks them to co-exist with wolves who live on those lands.
Rancher Todd Nash is not happy about losing any of his cattle to the wolves. He had one confirmed wolf kill on a calf in the Spring of 2010 near where this photo was taken in the “Divide Country” of Eastern Wallowa County, (which has now been compensated by Defenders of Wildlife). He says he had as many as 15 unconfirmed kills last year when he was grazing his cows in this remote area, but there is no way to confirm the losses without evidence of a kill. Todd uses federal lease allotment grazing land in central wolf country.
In today's online Portland Oregonian, Ceiridwen Terrill posted an excellent "We Can Save Oregon's Wolves" piece. He ends with:
The wildlife and public lands of Oregon belong to us all. Will we Oregonians be able to tell our children that we chose to be a model for other Western states and share the land with wolves, not just those species that don't inconvenience some of us?
There are quite a few interesting comments on Terrill's thoughts. Here's part of one from someone who knows the truth about welfare ranching on public lands.
Every wolf story brings out cattlemen to cry the "Red Riding Hood" story to a public in the city totally ignorant of the predator role in sound management, and healthy populations, wildlife and domestic critters. The destruction of our rangelands by livestock grazing includes destroying water sources and "poisoning" of free flowing waters by cattle and sheep- like Giaridia infestations that have made almost all streams in the west either "suspect" or outright dangerous.
Significant in the article is the ridiculously low $1.35 per AUM fee ranchers pay on public land, "moofare" costs Americans far more than "welfare", as "city folk" don't destroy rangelands that wildlife like deer, pronghorn and antelope depend upon, government "free rides" to them don't cost nearly as much as "free range". Just the number of people killed by hitting cows on that "free range" when they're in highways far exceed human deaths and damage caused by "predators".
As to those "non-confirmed" kills by coyotes and wolves, I've seen those carcasses being "attacked" when the cow died while calving at 20 below zero out on the open public range, where ranchers put them to save money on grazing fees by calving on "winter range". Yep, wolves can jump fences, actually, so can cows! Not to mention how cows "magically" take down gates, or have "hunters" open them so they can go from licensed range, onto allotments they're not supposed to be on, or into wildlife and water exclosures where the grass is literally greener, and "tastier". It's funny how no sign of hunters is around months before hunting season, but signs of buckaroo activity show up around those "accidentally" opened gates.
Yes, with over 40 years out observing those rangelands, and wildlife as well as livestock, I understand the ranchers' "plight", especially when they ARE compensated for ACTUAL losses to wolves that can be proven. Now if they just had to pay for the damage their livestock has been proven, for decades, to have caused, or even those "range improvements" that decimate wildlife populations, migrations, and breeding grounds.
Many ranchers recognize that it is possible to raise cattle in an environmentally responsible way and still make a decent living. Todd Nash, unfortunately, appears to be one of the uninformed "the only good wolf is a dead wolf" ranchers. They can't be allowed to dictate Oregon's wolf policy.
I grew up in a ranching town. I spent my youth wandering the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. I learned how to deal with rattlesnakes and other dangers. I didn't expect wilderness areas to be made into a theme park, nor did any of the ranching families I knew.
Wolves are wild. This scares some people.
Well, they should move to a condo in Portland if they are afraid of being around top predators like cougars and wolves. Where my wife and I live, cougars are known to roam. We enjoy this.
Sometimes I walk in the woods at night with our dog. If a nearby deer carcass is evidence of a cougar kill I'll be more cautious than usual. But I'd rather run the very small risk of being attacked by a cougar, than live in a world without wildness.
The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. Every tree sends its fibers forth in search of the Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plow and sail for it. From the forest and wilderness come the tonics and barks which brace mankind. . . .