Sponsored by Oregon Business

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.”

More Articles

Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

We get the education we deserve.


After the Orange Line

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
090815-trimet-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Alan Lehto, TriMet's director of policy & planning, shares a few thoughts on ride sharing and more nimble bus services.


New green wood building product takes off in Oregon

Thursday, September 10, 2015
091115-cltjohnson-thumbBY KIM MOORE

Oregon is set to become a hub of a new type of wooden building design as a southern Oregon timber company becomes the first certified manufacturer of a high-tech wood product, known as cross-laminated timber, or CLT.


The List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For project attracted more than 150 nonprofits from around the state from a variety of sectors, including social services and environmental advocacy.  More than 5,000 employees and volunteers filled out the survey, rating their satisfaction with work environment, mission and goals, career development and learning, benefits and compensation, and management and communications.


One Tough Mayor

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Betty Roppe steers Prineville into the future.


Storyteller in Chief: Power Player

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.


Downtime with Patrick Criteser

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Live, Work Play with the President and CEO of Tillamook County Creamery Association.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02