When Wolves Run Wild

When Wolves Run Wild

In past years Oregon has made a great effort to reintroduce wolves to its fertile lands. It is to be expected that a carnivore is going to hunt for food, but what happens when its prey become domesticated animals? For ranchers in northeast Oregon the answer is devastation. 

George Rawlings, who works on a ranch in Baker County, said, “We’ve seen them, (wolves), in our meadows.” The ranch owner had Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirm a cow was killed by a wolf in 2012, followed by 24 missing cows in 2013 and 11 missing in 2014. Rawlings said that before the wolves started coming around, typically only two to three cows went missing per year. “Everybody around here is watching cattle closer,” Rawlings said. He recently found wolf tracks in the snow just 200 yards from the ranch house. “We try to make a presence so the wolves know we are there,” he said. This is one of the tactics that Oregon Fish and Wildlife recommends to deter wolves.

Ron Anglin from ODFW admits that they are having some problems. “Certainly every time wolves have shown up in a new place you end up with some kind of problem,” Anglin said. He does see that a good percentage of ranchers are trying to comply with ODFW’s standards to deter wolves from their livestock. Anglin said those who are trying “are to be commended.”

Meanwhile, ranchers like Rawlings suffer great losses. Fred Phillips from Baker Valley has also seen wolves on his property. “The wolf is very stealthy and pretty much nocturnal,” he said. “They’re not afraid of anything.”

Rodger Julick from Baker Valley was short 16 cows this year. He said his cattle came home several months early and were scared and underweight. The losses are a heavy financial burden to Julick. In reference to how many cattle he sent out to graze this summer, Julick said, “To lose 7 or 8 cows you’re pushing 10 percent.”

Todd Nash, Wolf Committee Chair for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said the burden that comes with losing cows isn’t just financial; it is also emotional. Nash said, “I’ve seen a number of grown men and women cry” after finding their cow killed by a wolf. The killings are brutal. Nash has seen a 1,400 pound pregnant heifer alive but torn apart from a wolf. “They got the calf out of the cow while she was alive,” he said.

The situation is complicated to be sure. Anglin encourages ranchers to “continue to work with their district wildlife biologist” to find a solution to stop the killings. Currently, ODFW’s website states, “Except in defense of human life, or in certain circumstances when a wolf is attacking livestock, it is unlawful to shoot a wolf. Doing so is a violation of Oregon state game law, with fines and penalties assessed by a court.” Julick said he will, “continue to do everything ODFW requests.” He isn’t sure what else ranchers can do. “Until the laws change, the cow people in northeast Oregon are going to suffer.”

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.

Source: Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

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Spell Check

Todd Fross
Lander , WY
1/13/2015 07:01 PM

  ....The N Yellowstone Elk Herd is Extinct ! This is not about the Eco System.....this is about "YOU" and your way of life.....You think you're living in Oregon when in fact "You are living in Israel" ! ?Welcome to the World of the Enviro Muslims and their effort to set up the Enviro Islamic State . You are at War whether you want to accept it or not . There are more similarities between the Environ"mentals" and the Muslims than there are differences .....and YOU are in their way !

Avery, ID
1/14/2015 01:01 PM

  While I feel bad for people losing livestock, the situation is not going change. Wolves just work their way through available game and then target livestock. It is sad. However, Livestock owners need to keep the wagons circled and learn how to deal with the environmentalists. they are as bad as the wolves. Those folks are unbalanced. There is no talking to them, and there is no listening by them. Figure out a strategy to deal with the pro wolfers and then stick to it. I know it's awful, but somehow there needs to be a way to fight back .

Ty Mares
Silver City, NM
1/13/2015 03:34 PM

  It's been the same song and tune for years and we've had our own set of issues with the Mexican wolf in the Gila. Since the introduction of the non-essential experimental population of Mexican wolves in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA), 9 ranches in Catron County alone have gone out of business due to livestock depredation. This is not even counting the numerous human/ wolf conflicts that have occurred in the form of stalking and attacks. The Reserve School District recently had to construct wolf cages for kids at bus stops to protect them from wolves. The impact on wildlife has also been significant. One statistic states that there has a 33% increase in stillborn calves among elk populations in the Gila due to the presence of wolves. That does not account for the elk calves that are taken each year by wolves which is also unsustainable. The wolf is an undue burden for the people who reside in these areas and it is the same people who are losing their peace of mind, witnessing the erosion of private property rights, and watching their businesses suffer because of the wolf and the special interest groups that force their hand through the courts using tax dollars from the EAJA on this issue.


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