Crying wolf as the predator returns

| Print |  Email
Monday, June 01, 2009
ATSGrayWolf Admit it: We’re all a little afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. But after wolves killed 24 lambs and a calf in Baker County in April, ranchers in Eastern Oregon are more than a little afraid.

The attacks plus the removal of the gray wolf from the national endangered species list in May caused a long-simmering conflict between ranchers and conservationists to boil over.

Since the wolf is still under state endangered species protection, ranchers cannot go beyond “hazing” — yelling or throwing things at the wolves — or they risk penalties.

Wolves haven’t attacked livestock in more than 50 years. In 1843, the threat from predators to cattle, sheep and hogs spurred Oregon’s 250 scattered settlers to form a government. Oregon’s first law placed bounties on dead wolves: 50 cents for a small wolf, $3 for a big one. By 1946, the wolf had been driven from Oregon.

It’s really fear of the unknown, not livestock losses, that provokes such a strong reaction from ranchers, says Suzanne Stone, a representative for the national nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife. Wolf depredation accounts for less than 1% of livestock losses in Idaho, where there are close to 850 wolves, according to the USDA.

“Ranchers have been losing livestock to a number of causes for years, and to have such a strong reaction to wolves based on a couple dozen sheep and one calf is not the kind of reaction you’d see if this had been a domestic dog or black bears,” Stone says.

But ranchers like Mike Colton, a member of the Oregon Cattleman’s Association Wolf Task Force, say the death toll shouldn’t matter.

“We have to have the right to protect ourselves and protect our livestock,” Colton says, adding that it is hard for people who don’t live with predators to understand.

Curt Jacobs, who lost the 24 lambs, and Tik Moore, who lost the one calf, ultimately took a more moderate position than some ranchers who have never met the wolf. Jacobs and Moore went to Salem in April to ask the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Communities Committee to introduce a priority bill granting the right to shoot wolves caught in the act of attacking livestock, but not the right to track and kill them.

“They’re here, I think we need to learn to live with them,” says Moore, whose calf was killed 300 yards from where he sleeps. “We need a management plan that allows the wolves to exist but protects my rights as a rancher.”
ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

3 trends in the garden business

The Latest
Thursday, April 30, 2015
gardenthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Oregonians are scrambling to get their gardens in order for the summer. Here are three tips from landscaping and urban farming expert.


Read more...

Downtime with the director of Barley's Angels

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play with Christine Jump.


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...

Short Shrift:The threat of just-in-time scheduling

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Companies can benefit when they use software to meet staffing requirements and address employees' family and life commitments.


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS