What the Presence of the Wolf in Wallowa County Means to Me
The owners and caregivers of land and livestock usually have something strange happen in their hearts. They come to cherish the challenges of freezing days, driving rain, and beating sun. They sort of like hard work, dirt, and shabby dogs. Sweat-backed horses and dented pick-ups are held in high esteem.
Along with the tall grass, clear streams and majestic pines, the presence of both wild and gentle creatures become the reward for our work. We are privileged to look up with wonder at the circling hawk, slightly shudder when a cougar crosses our path, and to step carefully while fencing in rattlesnake riddled grass. We get to glimpse the big bull elk with his herd, the timid doe lurking in the shadow near her fawn, or a parade of wild turkeys with their fist-sized young. While fencing in the far woods, the rambling black bear might surprise us. “Oops, will you go your way… if I go mine?”
And I must mention the blessing of our own livestock. We get to move them to new pastures. We get to provide them with tender and tasty hay. We get to assist if there is trouble while birthing. We get to admire as the doting dam gives a bath to her milk-warmed cutie. We get to laugh when their young jump in the air and run tight circles. We get to look into the eyes of the weanling as she accepts the care that we are giving in the place of her dam. You have heard the music that an ungulate makes while munching a mouthful of grass or hay. That is a pretty special sound.
Ranch families are willing shepherds and we must take our jobs seriously. There are the challenges of conservation, wise use, and sustainability. We must have an understanding of the watershed and what will enhance it’s functioning. There has to be viable production to service the mortgage, buy shoes for the family, and to pay back the yearly operating loan.
So this is what the presence of the wolf means to me. That the people who are dear, the livestock that are cherished, and the land that has been dedicated to open space, all these might start disappearing. I wake up each morning with a bit of a sinking and with a dampened enthusiasm. Has the wolf visited our ranch in the night? What sort of ravaging, what sort of ripping of flesh and gutting, might we get to try and accept this morning? And how will we be able swallow the pain of failing? The failing to protect the gentle animals that depend on us.
It is becoming quite clear to many that the wolf is the Top Dog. That it is doing just dandy with proliferating, migrating, and making itself at home. The wolf may seem mysterious or even awe inspiring. Yet it was also born with an insatiable appetite. Facing all these frightening facts make me feel anxious. It makes me feel sad. It makes me feel like I might be the one to soon be howling at the moon.
Terri Morse, Enterprise, OR
Oregon Wolf Conservation Plan Revisions Needed
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has developed a wolf plan that is supposed to be flexible, fair and balanced, that gives people who will be harmed by wolves, tools to deal with them in a way that also satisfies the desires of those who want Oregon repopulated with wolves. The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the plan over the objections of those who will be most affected. Rather than giving choices to protect our property, it takes them away, putting ranchers at great risk of social, economic and physical loss. It is not fair, it is not balanced and any flexibility is biased toward preservation of wolves.
Wolves are presently terrorizing eastern Oregon, killing cattle and sheep and because of the Oregon Wolf Conservation plan ODFW has utilized all the escape valves they built into their rules to keep from protecting Oregon’s livestock industry. They are losing credibility in the eyes of the ranchers, tempers flare and frustration is our constant companion. Even after the first wolves in Oregon killed 25 head of livestock no action was taken. Now with the first pack to establish in Wallowa County killing livestock every few days despite ranchers taking every non-lethal preventative measure, it is time for changes to be made in the Wolf Plan.
Experience tells us that the wolf numbers will grow at least 33% a year and the predation on livestock and wildlife will double. With Oregon in a severe recession livestock dependant eastern Oregon communities with wolves are not sustainable and obviously unnecessary state spending isn’t either; therefore we again ask for your help. The Wolf Plan, first adopted in 2005, is currently undergoing a five-year review. Please contact the ODFW Commission and ask them to make the necessary changes to wolf plan that allows us our constitutional right to protect ourselves and our property. Public Comment on the Oregon Wolf Conservation Plan can be sent to:
The draft updated Oregon Wolf Management Plan and draft amended Oregon Administrative Rules are now available on the ODFW website under the Exibit I of the Commission's September 2nd meeting materials at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/10/09_sep/index.asp.
Comments submitted to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife by the
Oregon Cattleman's Wolf Committee Chair, Rod Childers.
Wolf Chronology of Events Spring 2010
Recent Oregon Wolf Articles
Wolf Related Links:
http://wallowavalleyonline.com (Click WC Wolf Watch)
Can Ranchers and Wolves Co-Exist?
A Symposium Hosted by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Eastern Oregon University Range Club
(La Grande, OR—May 4, 2010) The wolf population is expanding in Northeast Oregon as evidenced by increased wolf sightings and conflicts. At the upcoming wolf symposium, “Can Ranchers and Wolves Co-Exist?,” industry experts from Idaho and Minnesota will address wolf interactions with livestock as well as the overall social, environmental and economic impacts the presence of wolves have on Oregonians.
The symposium is open to the public, with no admission charge, and will be held in La Grande at Eastern Oregon University’s Badgley Hall in the first floor auditorium from 1- 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010. This symposium is especially timely for citizens and livestock producers who want to be better informed about wolf issues when the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan is opened for its first 5 year review this year. It will also be informative for veterinarians and others interested in diseases found to be carried and transmitted by over 60% of the wolves in Idaho.
“We are excited to get everyone in the same room to address these challenges with key environmental and wildlife experts seated at the table,” said Bill Hoyt, President of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. “This is an incredible opportunity to have a discussion that could lead to a well-balanced solution.”
The keynote speaker, Jim Beers, former chief of national wildlife refuge operations for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, now writes extensively and speaks to various organizations throughout the country about the federal wolf program and the cumulative impact of wolves on rural American life. Beers has written two dozen articles on wolf history and wolf management and has spoken to more than 2,000 attendees at public meetings from Arizona and New Mexico to Montana and Oregon.
Also on the agenda is Casey Anderson, who was born in Pendleton, grew up on a ranch and is currently managing the OX Ranch in Idaho. He will address wolf interactions with livestock, depredation, compensation and cattle behavior as well as the recent Idaho/Oregon Wolf Research Study made possible with funding by the Oregon Beef Council. With more than 20 years of ranch management experience, Anderson has been recognized by the Natural Resource Conservation Service with the “Excellence of Range Management Award” and received special recognition from the Society of Range Management.