Crying wolf as the predator returns

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2009
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 short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

Top stories in 2014

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
10-listthumb

2014 was a year of wild contradictions, fast-paced growth and unexpected revelations.


Read more...

See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...

Free Falling

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121714-oilprice-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

The implosion of the energy complex: The best thing for low oil prices is low oil prices.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Read more...

Three problems with Obama's immigration order

News
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR112614-immigration-thumb

By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.


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