OR: House bills alter coexistence of ranchers, wolves
Cascadia Wildlife and the Oregon Cattleman's Association discussed four new Oregon House bills
April 29, 2011
Last summer the Canadian gray wolves were temporarily removed from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's endangered species list as an experiment for the introduction of four separate house bills that will determine the future of the coexistence of wolves and ranchers.
The bills, HB 3560, HB 3561, HB 3562 and HB 3563, were introduced to protect ranchers from the growing population of wolves. The bill that has passed, HB 3562, allows people to kill gray wolves to defend one's life or the life of another person.
HB 3560 would establish and implement compensation to ranchers for livestock lost because of wolves. HB 3561 would establish four breeding pairs of gray wolves in the state, whereas HB 3563 allows a person to kill a gray wolf in certain situations without cause and without a permit. These three bills have not yet passed through the house.
Cascadia Wildlife campaign director Josh Laughlin called this an "unrealistic threat," as there have only been two confirmed deaths by wolves in the past 100 years.
The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund has not taken a collective standpoint on the issue, according to president Elisabeth Waner.
"SALDF encourages representation of animal rights in the law and in society, but we also allow for our members to maintain their own diverse opinion about how these right should play out in the legal context," Waner said.
Although SALDF has not taken a standpoint on the issue, Cascadia Wildlife and the Oregon Cattleman's Association have each made opinions.
"It is my belief that we can coexist and hear the howl of the wolf in the back country," Laughlin said.
In the late 1990s, the wolves started to migrate into Oregon, and currently, the verifiable wolf population in Oregon is at 23, which is split between two different packs.
"Oregon ranchers do not want to kill every wolf that walks," Bill Hoyt , president of the Oregon Cattleman's Association, said. "We don't get to where we're at by not loving animals."
Hoyt is a fifth generation rancher who taught at the University for 10 years before becoming a full-time rancher.
"We have a basic mistrust, and as long as that exists, we're not going to reach an agreement," Hoyt said.
Thursday he faced University alumnus Laughlin, who is working to defend the Oregon wolf population.
"Wolves were systematically exterminated from the landscape," Laughlin said about the time period before the 1940s when people settled in the west.
The Endangered Species Act was introduced in 1973, and the gray wolves were one of the first species to be on this list.
"It's a tremendous success story and an ongoing success story," Laughlin said.
The wolf population was reintroduced in the Rocky mountains and went from 66 wolves in 1973 to approximately 1600 wolves now.
There are about 60,000 gray wolves in North America, Hoyt said.
"If I believed in my heart that the Canadian gray wolf was going extinct, I would be the first guy on board. I have no desire to see any species go extinct," Hoyt said. "I live with the notion of balance in nature. That balance is only a small amount in time."
The elk population in the area of the Rockies where wolves were reintroduced went from 8000 to less than 1000. Hoyt said there is a need for a reasonable plan to manage the wolf population.
One of the ways ranchers protect themselves now is by using tracking devices on the wolves and red tape by the fences to scare off the predators.
"Wolves are not dumb," Hoyt said. "These are only temporary methods."
There is a program in place that compensates ranchers for cattle lost to wolves.
"The loss is way greater on the animals that are not taken by the wolf," Hoyt said. "They're meaner, they're on edge, and they don't get pregnant as much."
Although he thinks the compensation is not enough and won't replace the calf, Hoyt is happy with the fact that such a compensation is in place.
Laughlin pointed out that in 2009 there were 23 wolves and 1.26 billion calves. Of these 1.26 billion calves, 66,000 died, which amounts to 5,500 a month. Five of these deaths were confirmed deaths by wolves.
"There are a ton of other things that add to the degradation of cattle, but why should we bring more into the mix," Hoyt said.
Source: http://www.dailyemerald.com/news/house- ... -1.2213417
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