25 Apr 2010, 7:55pm
Latest Wildlife News
by admin

The wolf threat to ranchers’ livelihood

Editorial, Wallowa County Chieftan, 4/22/2010 [here]

Wildlife managers say the recent wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho were successful in every way. They limited the growth of the wolf populations and the amount of damage the predators could do to other wildlife and livestock.

All of which discredits the arguments environmentalists offer that the hunts hinder wolf recovery efforts.

Hunters fell short of taking their wolf quota in either state, dispelling concerns that the hunt would become a free-for-all. …

In the wake of those hunts, the wolf populations in both states remain healthy and continue to grow, managers say. Idaho still has about 840 wolves, and Montana about 532, according to the states’ wildlife managers. …

As that political and legal battle continues, wolves continue to prey upon cattle and sheep in both states and Oregon.

In Montana and Idaho last year, wolves killed 187 cattle, 546 sheep, 20 dogs and three goats. Ranchers, however, estimate that only 20 to 25 percent of wolf kills are ever verified. …

For example, here in Wallowa County, wolves have been repeatedly sighted on private land and were run out of Joseph rancher Karl and Karen Patton’s calf pasture in the middle of the night March 26. His neighbors, Scott and Kellie Shear, have had wolves among the cattle this week. Ranchers are getting up several times in the night to conduct livestock checks in previously safe pastures. Rancher Ramona Phillips is not just scared for her cattle; she’s scared for her children. …

Phillips echoes the feelings of dozens of ranchers when she emphasizes that the issue is not just financial - it’s about stewardship. “It’s not in me to watch a wolf tear apart one my calves and just stand by,” she said. “It’s scary. I’ve always done night checks on heifers to make sure they’re calving all right, but now we’re doing checks every few hours and my husband Charley is getting up at 3 a.m. and staying out with the cattle.”

Sirens are up on the Patton ranch, but there aren’t enough sirens to go around - ODFW only has one. …

“I just talked to ODFW. According to their GPS-collared-wolf records, these wolves are spending 80 percent of their time on private land,” said rancher Rod Childers.

Judging from their rapidly expanding populations across the West, it is obvious that wolf populations are healthy. Our concern is whether we’ll be able to say the same thing about the West’s ranchers in years to come.



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