Nov 30

A symbol of the wild recovers amid controversy

A symbol of the wild recovers amid controversy

By: Matt Norman, Senior Staff Writer

One can imagine the conflicting emotions that ancient man must have had towards the wolf; one of the most striking and noble of all animals, but also representing all that is wild, not to mention frightening, in nature. Despite this dichotomy, man was able to live in balance with wolves until the eighteenth century, when the expansion of modern civilization led to the wolfs decline in many areas around the world. Now, with wolves resurgent in many places where they had long been absent, the conflict is arising once more, this time in the form of a political controversy. It is a conflict based on primal emotions, but thanks largely to pioneering researchers at Michigan Tech, it is one that scientific understanding is being brought to bear on.

The current controversy centers around the impact of increasing wolf populations on both big game and livestock. Hunters and farmers have in recent years led a rising chorus blaming wolves for declining game harvests and dead cattle. While the debate is most heated in the West, it has also been the cause of an increasingly evident public divide in the Upper Peninsula. In all places where the issue is being argued, however, Michigan Tech researchers are being called upon to shed light on the matter.

It was no surprise then when a USA Today article last week, looking into whether wolves have been responsible for a drop in elk populations in Yellowstone National Park, looked to MTU forestry professor John Vucetich for insight. Vucetich, who began researching the wolves of Isle Royale twelve years ago as an MTU undergrad, used ecological models to analyze the relative impact of wolves on elk.

His findings were clear, indicating that it was almost entirely a combination of severe ongoing drought in the region and increased hunting that had led to the sharp decline in elk. The models findings make a lot of sense, says Vucetich, when considering that the last six years have been the worst extended drought in the southwest since the Dust Bowl and that an increase in elk hunting permits issued by Montana has led to the harvest rate nearly doubling over that time.

The findings are unlikely to satisfy those who persist in seeing the wolf, which was reintroduced to Yellowstone during the 1980s, as the root of the elks problems. MTU research has had more success in tempering the demonization of the wolf in the Upper Peninsula however.

Wolves have made a remarkable recovery in the U.P. over the last decade. In 1992, there were only around 20 wolves in the entire peninsula. Currently there are thought to be 400. The growth has been facilitated by the wolfs federal protected status, first as endangered and more recently as threatened, titles meaning that anyone caught killing a wolf will be subject to hefty fines. This protection has also bred enmity towards the wolf, however, especially among hunters who blame the wolf for declining deer harvests throughout the U.P.

A culture of vilification of the wolf has sprung up in recent years according to Michigan State sociologist Rik Scarce. If you walk into the right bar at the right time, someone will be talking about killing wolves, says Scarce. This statement is corroborated by letters to the editor expressing intense anger at the presence of wolves, have become a norm for many U.P. papers over recent years. In one typical example, John Gagnon of Kingsord asserts that, rather than being fined, those shooting wolves should be paid a bounty for doing a public service.

The research of Vucetich and others at MTU has provided strong evidence that such attitudes are unwarranted however, especially among hunters. As Vucetich points out, while wolves definitely kill deer and lower the deer population, it is doubtful that they do so at levels that would cause any noticeable change in deer harvest for hunters. DNR research finds that at current population levels wolves are likely responsible for 5 percent of all deer kills in the U.P. This is in comparison to vehicular collisions, which are responsible for about 7 percent of deer deaths and hunting, which accounts for 47 percent.

Moreover, as Vucetich points out, as the top predator the wolves in fact play an important ecological role in regulating deer population, one that human hunters alone cant fulfill. This is well demonstrated by the situation downstate, where wolves are still by and large absent. There deer populations are far over DNR targets, leading, among other things to the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease among deer herds.

The spread of theses sicknesses to livestock necessitated the killing of 5,000 head of cattle in 2004, a number several orders of magnitude greater than the number of cattle killed by wolves.

This modern understanding of wolves and their ecological role has been formed largely by the research done at MTU. One big reason this has been the case is the schools location. Isle Royale, where an isolated population of wolves has continually existed, even when the animals were virtually extinct throughout the upper midwest, has long provided an ideal laboratory for observing and learning about both wolves and their relationship with the rest of the ecosystem. The predator-prey relationship between wolves and moose on Isle Royale has been studied without interruption for the last 58 years, making it the longest studied of any predator-prey interaction.

Leading the research efforts here at MTU has been Rolf Peterson of Forestry, who began studying wolves on Isle Royale 34 years ago. At that time, Peterson was a student of Derwood Anderson, the originator of the Isle Royale wolf study. After Andersons retirement, Peterson took over the study and relocated it to its most logical destination, Michigan Tech.

Since then, Peterson and others at MTU have found Isle Royale to be a treasure trove of knowledge on predator prey relationships, and on wolves in particular. The expertise developed in the process has led to MTU researchers being in high demand, especially during the latest round of controversy surrounding wolves.

The researchers have so far managed to remain scientific in their approach despite the contentious atmosphere. According to the math dept.s Tom Drummer, who has worked on wolf modeling since 1997, while love of nature drives the research it is rigorous science that allows it to serve nature.

Vucetich echoes this, saying For people who love wolves, they are symbolic of all that is great about nature. For those who dislike wolves, they symbolize all that is most difficult in nature. There needs to be a dialogue between the two views.

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Nov 30

OR: Wolf plan up for vote has fewer protection options

Wolf plan up for vote has fewer protection options

Oregon landowners say proposal leaves livestock in danger

BETH CASPER
Statesman Journal

Final amendments to the wolf-management plan approved last winter are up for another vote by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission — without the protections landowners insist they need.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the plan in February with three changes that needed to be made within the law.

But those changes languished in a House committee during the 2005 Legislature.

Without the legislative changes, landowners have fewer options for protecting their livestock from wolves, said Craig Ely of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“There are three things we would like to see in state law to help and assist the landowner,” he said. “They didn’t pass out of House committee. The agency still wants to propose these in the future.”

In the meantime, the agency staff wants a wolf-management plan in place.

The staff is proposing to move the parts of the plan that involved legislative action to an appendix — “parking” them until they can be brought up in the 2007 Legislature.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote on the amended plan Thursday.

The changes that were not made in the 2005 legislative session include:

Changing the legal status of the gray wolf from protected non-game wildlife to a special-status mammal under the game-mammal definition.

Amending the wildlife-damage statute to remove the requirement for a permit to kill a gray wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock.

Creating a state-funded program to pay compensation for wolf-caused livestock losses and for proactive methods to prevent wolf depredation.

Wildlife officials say it is important to adopt a plan before wolves enter Oregon from Idaho. Wolves are native, but there is no permanent wolf population in Oregon.

Source

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Nov 29

Officials probe wolf deaths in northwest Montana

Officials probe wolf deaths in northwest Montana

The Associated Press

KALISPELL State and federal officials are investigating the deaths of at least two wolves in northwest Montana.

State Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say hunters found a dead male wolf in the Middle Fork Flathead River on November 11th. The carcass has been sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Five days later, tribal and federal officials say they found the carcass of a collared female wolf of the Hog Heaven Pack.

Authorities also are investigating a report of a dead wolf-like canid in the interior of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

The location can’t be reached right now due to snow and the report has not been confirmed by F-W-P.

Source

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Nov 28

MT: If They Would Only Eat Bison

If They Would Only Eat Bison

By Bill Schneider

As elk hunting concludes for the year, controversy lives on. Hunters and outfitters in south central Montana continue to bemoan the dramaticpossibly as much as 50 percentdecline of the famous northern Yellowstone elk herd. They blame the wolf, which has greatly expanded its numbers since its historic re-introduction back in 1995. From the original dozen wolves introduced, the population has grown to 171 in the park, 106 of which live on the northern range.

In a November 21 article in USA Today Dan Vergano quotes several biologists debating the cause of the reduction. These scientific opinions werent music to the hunters ears because they concluded that hunting is partly responsible for the decrease.

In the article, biologist John Vucetich said a reduction was no surprise because wolves were expected to take a bite out of the northern elk herd, but he admits the decline has been greater than expected. Estimated at about 17,000 animals in 1995, the herd has now slipped to about 8,000.

In his research, Vucetich discovered that although wolves were partially responsible, weather and hunting were the main contributors to the decline. The park has had a seven-year drought, and the number of elk permits has been increasedboth occurring at the same time the wolf population was rapidly building.

I called Doug Smith who supervises wolf research in the park for the National Park Service to ask about this, and he agreed that the decline was multi-causala combination of wolves, hunting and drought, with one additional culprit, the grizzly bear, which has also nearly tripled its numbers in the past twenty-five years, going from a low of about 150 animals to 600 or more.

In the Yellowstone Science magazine, renown wolf biologist Dave Mech and several co-researchers side with Smith, concluding that bears (both grizzly and black) have a big impact on elk numbers, probably greater than wolves. In fact, they discovered that bears kill roughly six times more elk calves than wolves do.

Elk calves are actually quite vulnerable because they stay in place near danger instead of running. In May and June, bears sigzag through elk calving areas finding many easy meals.

Like wolves, grizzly bears are Yellowstone success story, bouncing back from the brink of extinction to a point where the federal government now wants to remove the protections provided by the Endangered Species Act in place since 1975, and Wyoming plans to have an open season on the big bear. Stacked in queue behind the grizzly delisting proposal is a similar, but currently stalled, proposal to delist the wolf. The success of the wolf and grizzly bear might have, according to Mech, come partially at the expense of elk.

All researchers agree that all four factorsweather, bears, wolves, and huntershave combined to create a perfect storm for the elk herd, which may have been due for decline anyway. At least some biologists feel the herd had far outgrown its habitats ability to support such high numbers.

Heres the rub. Sometimes things dont happen as planned. While elk numbers decrease and hunters blood pressures increase, bison numbers keep going up, prompting Montana to have its first hunt in fifteen yearsand suffer some severe political pain in the process. Ten years ago, biologists wanted the return of the wolf, in part, to help control bison, but alas, wolves prefer elk.

Imagine our situation if wolves preferred bison to elk. And why not? On the surface, youd think elk would be much harder to catch than a bison, which most of time seems as mobile as a rock. But thats an illusion, according to Smith. Bison are cantankerous and harder to kill than elk, Smith explains. Wolves are basically cowardly hunters, so when the prey stands its ground, they dont like it. Bison do that more than any other prey. This is intimidating to a wolf. They have to be careful because they cant risk an injury.

Wildlife researchers have observed many times that an injured predator rarely survives. Bison might not look dangerous to tourists as they whiz by at 50 mph on Yellowstone highways, but they are quick and can easily injury a predator.

But as always, theres hope for the future. Smith and his researchers have found two wolf packs in the interior of the park that eat primarily bison, especially in winter, because there arent many elk in that part of the park.

Even on the northern range, wolves are killing more bison. The wolf take of bison is slowly increasing, Smith reports. Each year, the percent of bison (in the wolfs diet) increases, but its still dominated by elk. As long as we have elk, there probably is not going to be much bison predation on the northern range.

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Nov 27

Sweden: Stockholm wolf driven over and put away

Stockholm wolf driven over and put away

Rough translation by TWIN Observer

The wolf seen around Stockholm is dead, reports several media.

A car likely hit the male wolf on national highway 255 south of Nynäshamn some time on Saturday. The police who were called to the place where the wolf was lying severely hurt contacted a veterinarian who decided that it should be put away.

The body was taken to the veterinary medicine institute in Uppsala for examination.

TT

Stockholsmvarg påkörd och avlivad

STOCKHOLM

Den varg som setts stryka omkring i Stockholm är död, rapporterar flera medier.

En bilist körde troligen på varghannen på riksväg 225 söder om Nynäshamn någon gång under på lördagen. Polisen som larmats till den plats där vargen senare blivit liggande svårt skadad kontaktade veterinär som beslutade att den skulle avlivas.

Kroppen är förd till veterinärmedicinska anstalten i Uppsala för undersökning. Vargen sågs på flera platser runt om i Stockholmstrakten för två veckor sedan.

TT

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Nov 25

Sweden: Wolf population is increasing

Wolf population is increasing


Rough translation by TWIN Observer

STOCKHOLM

The wolf population continues to increase. 12-15 litters of pups were born last year and estimates suggest that there are are now 130-140 wolves in the land. That means that the riksdag’s level of 200 animals soon can be reached and therewith it can be possible to have wolf hunting.

“Continuing the increase at the same rate is said to reach the goal withing two-three years,” says Olof Liberg, coordinator for the scandinavian wolf research project Skandulv.

By the same time last year there were 113-128 wolves in Sweden. In this number is included a number of animals which partly moved around in Norwegian territories.

“Now we have indications that we can have had as many as 15 rejuvenations in Sweden last summer. It should be in such a case four more than the previous year,” says Liberg.

The population is as earlier concentrated to Värmland and Dalarna together with surrounding areas. On the Norwegian side of the border adds further a small number of family groups.

When the Riksdag decided about the wolf population size it was said that a new evaluation of the situation should be done when the goal of 200 animals was reached. Hunters have hoped for a long time that this means the go-ahead for wolf hunting.

“If a decision comes a decision about hunting when we have 200 wolves it should be possible to shoot up to 20 animals per year. Although then one takes away the entire increase, so I should believe one decides for a lower take, perhaps 10 animals,” says Liberg.

According to environmental minister Lena Sommestad an investigation shortly to begin to look at how the population shall be managed in the future. Where questions are included about possible hunts, together with possibilities to transfer a part of the administration to a regional level.

At the same time the hunters repeat their earlier request. Next thursday up to 2000 hunters gather in Falun to protest against the swedish predatory animals policies. The Swedish hunting organization will bus members from many places in the country to the demonstration. The organization demands “a predatory animals policy which starts from the people who live in the regions with large predatory animal populations.”

Vargarna blir allt fler

STOCKHOLM

Vargstammen fortsätter att öka. 12-15 valpkullar kan ha fötts i år och beräkningar antyder att det nu finns 130-140 vargar i landet. Det innebär att riksdagens etappmål på 200 djur snart kan vara nått och därmed kan det bli möjligt med jakt på vargar.

- Fortsätter ökningen i samma takt lär målet vara nått om två-tre år, säger Olof Liberg, koordinator för det skandinaviska vargforskningsprojektet Skandulv.

Vid samma tid ifjol fanns 113-128 vargar i Sverige. I den siffran ingår ett antal djur som delvis rörde sig på norskt territorium.

- Nu har vi indikationer på att vi kan ha haft så många som 15 föryngringar i Sverige i somras. Det skulle i så fall vara fyra fler än förra året, säger Liberg.

Stammen är som tidigare koncentrerad till Värmland och Dalarna samt kringliggande områden. På den norska sidan av gränsen tillkommer ytterligare ett mindre antal familjegrupper.

När riksdagen tog beslut om vargstammens storlek sades det att en ny utvärdering av läget skulle göras när etappmålet på 200 djur var uppnått. Jägarna har sedan länge hoppats på att detta innebär klartecken för jakt på varg.

- Blir det ett beslut om jakt när vi har 200 vargar skulle det vara möjligt att skjuta uppemot 20 djur per år. Fast då tar man bort hela tillväxten, så jag skulle tro att man beslutar sig för ett lägre uttag, kanske tio djur, säger Liberg.

Enligt miljöminister Lena Sommestad kommer en utredning inom kort att börja titta på hur stammen ska hanteras i framtiden. Där ingår frågor som eventuell jakt, samt möjligheter att överföra en del av förvaltningen på regional nivå.

Samtidigt upprepar jägarna sina tidigare krav. Nästa torsdag samlas uppemot 2 000 jägare i Falun för att protestera mot den svenska rovdjurspolitiken. Svenska Jägareförbundet bussar medlemmarna från många håll i landet till manifestationen. Förbundet kräver “en rovdjurspolitik som utgår från de människor som lever i områden med stora rovdjursstammar”.

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Nov 23

Swiss seek to change law on wolf hunting

Swiss seek to change law on wolf hunting

swissinfo

The WWF has described a Swiss proposal to downgrade the status of wolves from strictly protected to protected as “unacceptable and irresponsible”.

The proposal is filed for a meeting of the 1979 Bern Convention on protecting wildlife to be held at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg next week.

The international conservation organisation said on Wednesday that the move to allow some hunting of the animal would undermine hopes for the return of wolf populations in western Europe.

“[The change in status] is irresponsible because it’s far too early,” Joanna Schönenberger, a large carnivore specialist for the WWF’s alpine programme, told swissinfo.

“The Swiss authorities say the wolf is recovering and reproducing fast. But at present there are [only] two to three wolves actually on Swiss territory  two on the Swiss-Italian border and one in canton Graubünden,” she said.

“The wolf is protected by the Bern Convention because it’s an endangered species.”

The four-day meeting in Strasbourg, which will begin discussing the Swiss proposal on Monday, is a session of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, which aims to preserve European wildlife in its natural habitat.

Conflict

Swiss officials said they were seeking a change in the wolf’s status under the Convention from “strictly protected” to “protected”, like the lynx.

They say this would enable controlled culling to maintain a manageable population.

They argue the wolf population poses a threat to local communities in mountain areas and to their livestock, especially sheep.

“The aim is to limit the scope for conflict with mountain farming,” said a government official.

Schönenberger appreciated this argument and said she was not in principle against hunting wolves  but not yet.

“Our job is to learn how to protect our herds from attacks from wolves and other animals, such as bears, lynxes and dogs,” she said. “It’s not to reduce the status as soon as we have a wolf or two in the country.”

“Sad day”

Wolves were driven to extinction throughout most of western Europe by the beginning of the 20th century, mostly by hunting and the expansion of human settlements and upland farming into areas in which wolves had ranged free.

But over the past few decades  partly as a result of the Bern Convention  some have returned to the Alps.

Single animals returned to Switzerland from Italy in 1995.

Schönenberger says if the Swiss proposal is accepted it would be a step backwards not just for wolves but for all animals protected by an international convention.

“It would be a sad day,” she said. “As soon as a country has two animals they go and change an international convention  what kind of precedent does that set?”

swissinfo, Thomas Stephens

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Nov 23

OR: Ranchers line up against final vote

Ranchers line up against final vote

They still want compensation, ability to kill wolves on their property

From staff and wire reports

Many Oregon cattle ranchers have voted to cut off hunter and angler access to their property if the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission votes to adopt the final amendments to the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

The final vote on the plan amendments is Dec. 1 by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in Salem.

An organized recreational lockout is one of the few bullets that the ranchers have left to try and stave off final adoption of the full plan.

“There’s not a lot of options left,” said Kay Teisl, the executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. “We’d like to see them rescind the wolf plan and work with us.

“It seems like everything in it, they don’t take into consideration the people who are going to bear the burden of the wolf.”

Chief among those concerns is lack of a compensation plan for livestock and not allowing them to kill wolves that threaten livestock.

No wolves are known to be in Oregon, but their inevitable arrival from expanding packs in Idaho is anticipated by biologists.

The plan was approved in February, but the amendments are required because of a federal court ruling on the status of gray wolves and the failure of the Oregon Legislature to authorize a compensation plan.

Both of which — changing the definition of the status of the wolf and the compensation pool — ironically, were fought by representatives of the Cattlemen’s Association.

While not an official policy of the Cattlemen’s Association — each rancher must decide whether to allow hunters and anglers on their land — Teisl said the group backs those who voted for the resolution during the annual meeting of association members earlier this month.

“We’re not initiating it, per se, from the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association itself,” Teisl said. “But we’re supportive of any ranchers who are interested in doing that.”

The original draft of the plan would have allowed ranchers to shoot wolves attacking livestock.

That provision was taken out to conform to a federal court ruling in January that any wolves moving into Oregon would be protected as a threatened species.

In reality, the vote by association members changes little.

Landowners always have had, and exercised, the right to deny public access to their holdings.

Craig Ely, the special projects coordinator with the Fish and Wildlife Department, said denying public access would affect a few key hunting and fishing spots.

But much of the private land in Eastern Oregon already is closed to all but family and friends of the owners, he added.

But the vote is a way of dramatizing a united front, and the anger of the association members.

“It was desperation; we’re backed up against the wall,” Teisl said. “And they’re not giving us any tools to protect our livestock, which they can clearly do, but they just refuse to do.

“I just wish the commission would take a step back and look at this and try to see our side of it and make some ne- gotiations, something that we could all live with.”

One looming potential issue if the recreational ban gains steam is for those ranchers who have agreements under the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Access and Habitat Program.

In many cases, the program pays ranchers money out of a surcharge on hunting license fees for access onto the land for hunting, or to pay for easements across the land to get to public and private areas that are open to hunting, often for multiple years.

“Of course we understand people that have obligations, who are under contract and that sort of thing, may not be able to participate,” Teisl said about the lockout.

And it’s too early in the game, other than the word about the initial vote there’s been no further word about the implications to any Fish and Wildlife programs, said Nick Myatt, the state Access and Habitat Program coordinator.

“I know this has been going on, there’s been talk on this for awhile,” Wyatt said “But I haven’t heard anything, so I’m assuming it’s not landowners who are enrolled in our program.”

But a statewide lockout by association members could affect future enrollment in the program, Ely said.

Source

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Nov 22

Swiss hit by WWF over call for Europe wolf hunts

Swiss hit by WWF over call for Europe wolf hunts

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) – The international conservation body WWF on Wednesday accused Switzerland of undermining hopes for the return of wolf populations in western Europe with a proposal to allow some hunting of the animals.

WWF said the proposal — filed for a meeting of the 1979 Berne Convention on protecting wildlife to be held at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg next week — was “unacceptable and irresponsible.”

“It is incredible that Switzerland, with a wolf population of two or three individuals, has the audacity to ask the Council of Europe to allow hunting,” said Joanna Schoenenberger, a specialist in the WWF’s European Alpine Program.

Swiss officials said what they sought was a change in the wolf’s status under the Convention from “strictly protected” to “protected”, like the lynx, thus allowing controlled culling in order to maintain a manageable population level.

“The aim is to limit the scope for conflict with mountain farming,” said one government official.

Wolves were driven to extinction throughout most of western Europe by the start of the 20th century, largely by hunting and the expansion of human settlements and upland farming into areas in which they had ranged free.

RETURN TO THE ALPS

But over the past few decades, partly as a result of the Berne Convention, some have returned to the Alps — stretching from France across northern Italy and Switzerland to Austria — with the help of conservationists.

Single animals came back to Switzerland from Italy in 1995.

“But none of these individuals have reproduced. Any culling in the Alps would be a disaster for the wolf population here,”

the WWF’s Schoenenberger said in a statement.

The Strasbourg meeting, on November 28 and December 1, is a session of the Standing Committee of the Berne Convention, named for the Swiss capital where it was signed and aimed at preserving European wildlife and its natural habitat.

The Council of Europe, which links countries inside and outside the European Union in the west and east of the continent, supervises implementation of the Convention.

Swiss officials argue that the wolf population presents a threat to local communities in mountain areas and to their livestock, especially sheep.

Farmers often blame wolves for the loss of sheep. But the WWF, formerly known as the World Wide Fund for Nature, says dogs are usually the killers.

Source

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Nov 22

OR: Upset about wolf plan, ranchers may shut lands to public

Upset about wolf plan, ranchers may shut lands to public

The Associated Press

BAKER CITY, Ore. (AP)  Some ranchers are so fed up with the state’s new plan for managing wolves expected to migrate in from Idaho that they want to close their lands for hunters and anglers.

They don’t like the fact that they can’t shoot wolves they suspect of preying on livestock, and that there is no state fund to reimburse them for livestock killed by wolves.

Some ranchers in Baker County have closed their land to hunters and anglers. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has adopted a resolution to work toward that end statewide if the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopts the plan next month.

The plan was adopted last February, but has to be amended since the Legislature did not authorize key elements. It originally would have allowed ranchers to shoot wolves attacking livestock. That provision was taken out to conform to a federal court ruling that any wolves moving into Oregon would be protected as a threatened species.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association opposed legislation that would have created a compensation fund, changed the legal status of wolves to make them easier to manage, and dropped the need for a permit to shoot a wolf attacking livestock, said Craig Ely, wolf plan coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Ely said denying public access would affect a few key hunting and fishing spots, but much of the private land in Eastern Oregon is already closed to all but family and friends of the owners.

Mike Colton of Baker City, president of the Baker County Livestock Association, was one of seven ranchers who this spring decided not to allow access to hunters and anglers. He urged passage of the statewide resolution to protest the ODFW as “an agency that is not following its own policies, mission and goals” and to protect “the wolf’s wild prey base in anticipation of (the wolf’s) arrival in Oregon.”

The resolution passed with only one “no” vote.

The revised plan “leaves livestock producers with no legal, reasonable, short-term options save one to close our land to any public entry,” said Colton. “We’ve been strong-armed and ignored by the commission. We’re left to do the one thing we can do.”

OCA executive director Kay Tiesel said that the strength of Colton’s proposal is that it makes a statement in support of livestock producers but carries no price tag for the organization.

“It’s the best way we can find to level the playing field,” she said.

“The hunters we’ve talked to have been very receptive to us,” Colton said. “The Oregon Hunters Association hated to see (the closure) happen, but they supported us anyway.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started reintroducing wolves in 1995 to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. More than 400 now roam Idaho.

Since 1999, at least three wolves have made their way into Oregon, though none are known to be in the state now. Several packs have established in Idaho just across Hells Canyon and the Snake River from Oregon and are expected to move into Oregon at any time.

Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group, has paid ranchers in other states for lost livestock, and offered to do the same in Oregon.

Source

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