There is a fight going on in Oregon between wolf advocates and ranchers.  Nothing new right? Well, this one has a twist.  As it stands now, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) biologists are who make the determinations as to whether a wolf is responsible for killing livestock or not.  Ranchers don’t like that because it means that they might not get their accustomed handouts from the government and they might not get to have a wolf killed.  Wolf advocates like it because they perceive that ODFW biologists don’t feel beholden to the ranchers to make the call in the favor of ranchers and against wolves.  Still, the process doesn’t require any attempts at non-lethal measure to address problems before the rancher gets a check.

In the last couple of years there have been increasing numbers of wolves in Oregon and ranchers have tried to push ODFW out of the decision making.  One of the ways that they have done that is by simply not calling ODFW when they find dead livestock, instead, they call the county sheriff and Wildlife Services in to make the call.  Many of these calls have been called differently by ODFW agents who have to make the determination at a scene that has been disturbed by the ranchers and Wildlife Services.

Now, the ranchers are asking for an appeal process which would let them appeal the determination because they want the handout and they want more wolves to die.  Kay Teisl, executive director or the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, described the desired appeals process as “a third-party expert or panel of two veterinarians and the Washington State University lab analysis to be used to judicially resolve disagreements on wolf depredation determinations.”  It wouldn’t surprise me if they already have veterinarians sympathetic to their cause lined up.  And, of course, I’m sure they don’t want anyone but ranchers to be able to appeal those determinations, a typical tactic you’d expect from ranchers who seem to feel entitled to everything on earth.

My suggestion for Oregon wolf advocates, stick with the current process, or fight for inclusion in the process.

Who should decide if wolves are the culprits?.
by Cassandra Profita – OPB News

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

14 Responses to ODFW vs. Wildlife Services on who determines if a wolf killed the cow.

  1. avatar Bob says:

    Ken
    Nice sensational writing, Ralph really likes the anti- wolf type so he should like yours.
    Say someone steals your computer from your house while your gone, who do you want to investigate, neighborhood watch or the police. You’ll want your insurance to buy you another even if the door was unlocked.

    I pay a per/head tax on my cattle to pay for WS, my police force. By the way WS works for all U.S. citizens who have wildlife problems, anyone.

    I want a professional to investigate, WS. Montana’s head wolf coordinator hadn’t even seen a cattle depredation while on the job not a good choice to investigate.
    The beholden part was a beauty because everyone’s on the take right. You’ll bring up Carter, too bad his book didn’t address anything from the last ten years a lot has changed in the last ten years.
    As for the hand outs what have the pro-wolfers been doing eating game herds they didn’t build, cattle they don’t want to pay for,and what habitat improvements have they made. They keep taking yet what have they given to the states outside of YNP. Always good to see things from another view, carry on.

    • avatar william huard says:

      Bob-
      Losing cattle due to weather, disease, birthing complications etc is a cost of doing business as a rancher. Let’s be honest here….if you get compensated for wolf depredation and not these other possible causes you really don’t care if wolves are responsible now do you? That’s the problem- Pro -wolfers like me don’t like predators taking the blame for cattle losses they didn’t cause. Is that so hard to understand?

      • avatar Bob says:

        William
        If you have ever been on a depredation investigation you would know a little something but as you have not you’ve just been getting smoke blown in your face. Maybe 10 years ago investigations were new but now it’s easy if there’s any major parts of the animal left. Yes I do care what caused the death of a animal because that’s how you stop it from happening again. Studies show producers get paid for one of eight wolf losses. Not good math to get paid one out of eight times. Yes I loose about 3 – 4 percent to other causes like diseases its part of the business. Wolves kill cattle also is that so hard to understand? 75% of Montana’s wildlife is on private land so where are 75% of Montana’s wolves.
        Why should I pay a burden your not willing to pay. Got no problem with wolves until I have to pay to feed them. But then your the last person to

        • avatar william huard says:

          Bob-
          We have had this discussion before. If wolves kill your livestock you should be compensated for the loss and if wolf packs or individual wolves become chronic cattle killers then WS should step in. There seems to be this stereotype toward pro-wolfers that these mythical wolves can do no wrong and we expect ranchers to just suck it up and take the losses. You have said in the past that several wolf packs and other wildlife call your property home. Many ranchers are not even capable of that. Remember the history of wolf- rancher conflict didn’t work out too well for the wolves. Personally, I don’t trust the Dept of agriculture. A few months back Ken or ralph did a piece on the amazing disparity between DeptOf Ag and USFWS depredation numbers. If the science is so much better as you say- why the vast difference in the numbers?

          • avatar Bob says:

            William
            The science I refer to was what cause of death was, as for the numbers difference that’s Washington juggle the numbers is what they do best.

        • Bob,

          There has only been one study on this: that figure, 1 in 8 detected, came from a very remote, rugged, forested allotment on Salmon River Mountain. There was no herding of the cattle.

          Few grazing allotments are that way. Even if they were, you can’t generalize from a sample of one.

          I addition I think the number was one in five, not one in eight.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      I’ll bite. Perhaps if the game herds, including bison had not originally been wiped out, leaving nothing for wolves to eat other than livestock, this problem may, and I stress may, have been avoided a long time ago. Everything seemed to have some sort of recovery plan, save wolves. The Feds, at the beck and call of the ranching lobby finished the job.

      The same feds brought the wolves back in. Game abounds, almost to the point of feedlot status in most of the West. Though livestock depredations occur, they are a pinprick to the livestock industry in the West. I’ll submit that ranchers in wolf country bear a heavier burden than ranchers in non-wolf country. I am also in favor of wolf management.

      That said, I would hope all parties involved would get it right this time around. There are more important problems in this country than wolves, and the paranoia that surrounds them.

      • avatar Bob says:

        Immer
        perhaps if the world was still flat, all would be well.
        Not paranoid have got to know wolves real well in the last 4 years. Just trying to give a differing view and realize most people don’t spend as much time with wild wolves as I do. Also Ken is as much the problem as someone like Toby.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          Bob,

          I was not suggesting that you were paranoid, simply referring to the the continued blathering about wolves that is not true. Rather than the enormous pendulum swings that have surrounded this animal, in particular during the last ten years, a common ground exists in which this animal can find acceptance.

  2. avatar WM says:

    The role of the WSU lab, where ever that function resides in the University is interesting. One would think they would be objective in their role. WSU also has a vet school (one of the best in the country).

    The article speaks to a conflict in a finding, in which two vets and the WSU lab disagreed with the finding of no wolf kill by ODFW (the policy/enforcement body)that makes the final decision. How does one resolve incidents in which the evidence conflicts, convene a coroner’s inquest to determine cause of death of the livestock? Seems if a state has a compensation program, or a lethal control program based for wolf depredation, there ought to be an impartial appeal body.

    • avatar JB says:

      Another option, much simpler to implement, would be to compensate ranchers for any probable kill, but require a greater “burden of proof” for lethal management actions. This would allow quick and less costly reimbursement, while ensuring non-depredating wolves are not killed without reason.

      Cheaper, faster, and it addresses the criticisms of both ranchers and wolf advocates.

  3. avatar jon says:

    I support compensation to ranchers if the wolves are not killed. If wolves are killed, what is the purpose for compensating? We are trying to promote co-existence here, not killing a wolf everytime it eats cattle. Wolves see cattle just like any other food source. Why should they be given a death sentence for trying to survive? I understand that ranchers are losing money, but there has gotta be better ways that doesn’t involve wolves getting killed for acting naturally. it’s the rancher’s responsibility to find ways to protect his cattle from natural predators without killing wolves in the process. Killing is not a long term solution.

    • avatar JB says:

      Jon:

      We–as a society–chose to kill living entities all the time for “acting naturally”. We protect our crops from pests whether they are plants, insects, or mammals. The purpose of killing/removing wolves that kill cattle is to prevent further depredations, and thereby, [potentially] increase tolerance for wolves.

      Personally, I agree that we should be using non-lethal measures, especially animal husbandry, to prevent SOME of these depredations from occurring in the first place. But non-lethal measures of control are not a complete solution.

    • avatar Paul says:

      That PBS news piece that has been posted here seemed to show the second ranching couple having success for the past three years by incorporating new grazing methods. They lost only one calf to depredation over the three years. I would say that this grazing method might be a good starting point.

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