Oregon should follow Washington’s lead with wolf management
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 00:03
The Washington state Senate has passed a bill that would allow ranchers to shoot wolves without a permit, according to The Oregonian. This bill clears the red tape surrounding the topic of wolf-livestock interactions. Before this bill, a wolf had to be in the act of attacking a rancher’s livestock, and the rancher could only acquire a permit once the state confirmed lethal take of livestock has been occurring at a rate necessary for the lethal take of wolves.
The bill must now pass the state’s House, where it will face steep opposition. Critics argue that the bill undermines years of conservation work, and will only work toward the ultimate eradication of the wolves in Washington. With careful planning, this may not be the case.
This bill will allow the ranchers to defend their livestock in ways that were previously barred. Wolves have become predators to livestock and have cost ranchers time, energy and money to fix the issue of wolf predation. They also faced an array of regulations, which prevented them from defending their investments. Now ranchers can freely shoot any wolf that is preying on their livestock.
The state of Oregon should follow Washington’s lead. Wolves are becoming a significant problem in eastern Oregon, and it is clear with wolves — such as the wolf designated OR7, whose journey took him from northeastern Oregon to southern Oregon, through central Oregon and into northern California — that wolves migrate and do not always stay in their intended location.
Considering the implications of wolf migration, and OR7’s journey, one could be lead to assume that wolf relocation practices may not work as intended. Nonlethal methods prove ineffective in many cases, and only require more work, money and time investments for ranchers.
In 2010, a wolf attack in Alaska, which resulted in the death of a special education teacher, added to the call for stricter wolf management, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife.
An additional fatal attack in 2006, which resulted in Kenton Joel Carnegie’s death in northern Saskatchewan, was confirmed as the first fatal wolf attack on a human on the North American continent, according to NBC News.
While these attacks are years apart, they add to the dynamics of the necessities of wolf management.
Washington state’s recent wolf management actions are the correct ones. Ranchers need to be able to defend their livestock, regardless if a wolf-hunting season is implemented, such as in Idaho. Many see this as undermining the conservation efforts of environmentalist organizations. The real issue is that we have not properly managed wolf populations, and the price for this mismanagement is wolf populations detrimental to livestock and prey-animal populations.
By implementing these new laws, it will allow Washington to control the wolf population. However, critics argue these new laws will lead to wolf hunting seasons, and ultimately, the eradication of wolves. This is not true.
Wolf management, like any kind of predator or wildlife management program, is carefully planned and executed to manage the numbers of the targeted species. This is to eliminate the possibility of the targeted species affecting the populations of other animals in the area.
Wolves have long been accused of being harmful to prey populations, such as elk and deer. With the implementation of these new management practices, the benefits will be a decreased likelihood of livestock and prey predation. These practices will also allow ranchers to work around the red tape surrounding wolf predation on their livestock.
In northeastern Oregon, wolves have been the annoyance of ranchers of numerous types of livestock. Oregon should work to streamline the wolf management practice, and institute programs such as the one being proposed in Washington, and if necessary, institute wolf seasons.
These management practices will work to alleviate tension between ranchers and government institutions such as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, will allow ranchers to manage wolves in a way that will help deter wolves from preying on cattle, and will work toward keeping wolves from affecting prey-animal populations.
Tyler Pike is a junior in agricultural sciences. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Pike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.