About 50 people show up at wolf delisting hearing in Pendleton, Oregon
The next to the last wolf hearing was held Web. night in Pendleton, Oregon, a state that officially has no wild wolves, although most think one or more do wander the Eastern Oregon backcountry.
The initial news story reads like wolf supporters had a pretty good turnout. Story in the Oregonian. Breaking News.
The last scheduled hearing will be March 8 in Spokane, WA, although another, so far secretive, meeting is expected in Cody, Wyoming.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
5 Responses to About 50 people show up at wolf delisting hearing in Pendleton, Oregon
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“Josh Laughlin, director of the 700-member Cascadia Wildlands Project, based in Eugene…… He contends Oregon could support 2,000 wolves. ”
Really? Has there been preliminary studies on this? Ralph, do you know where he might have pulled that number from?
I find that really hard to believe. I would be suprised if either Wash or Oregon have the available prey and pack territory for more than 300 wolves each.
The article cites an Oregon environmental group’s estimate (Cascadia Wildlands Project) that Oregon could support 2000 or so wolves. I wonder how that study may compare to the methods used by FWS (and the powerpoint slides in Ed Bang’s public presentation) to determine that most of the artificial-boundaried Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Population area that FWS has contrived is NOT suitable habitat – based on some on habitat, roads, etc. – but also strongly laced with “If there are livestock conflicts = habitat is not suitable”.
I also wonder how many wolves Idaho could be estimated to support – under a Model/paradigm/mindset that did not use Livestock Conflicts to determine habitat suitability. Has anyone done this?
Note: I made some phone calls, and was told yesterday that an Oakleaf et al. paper is the basis for the info in Bang’s Powerpoint and the use of livestock conflicts as a driver of Habitat Suitability for wolves.
The one rancher quote in the Oregon article: “Rancher Rex Christensen of Pilot Rock said states’ attempts to reimburse ranchers when wolves kill livestock are doomed to fail. Ranchers may not find dead cattle for weeks or months, and it can be impossible to confirm that a wolf made the kill, especially after other predators and scavengers move in”.
DUH – if ranchers were willing to keep track of cattle while they are out despoiling the public lands, instead of just dumping them out and heading home to the ranch – You wouldn’t have this problem.
The public lands livestock industry, besides getting essentially free forage, doesn’t want to lift a finger/do any work. SO, if a rancher’s cows, unattended, run into trouble a couple of times with wolves, under FWS model of Habitat Suitability, Oops – that tract of National Forest land is no longer suitable habitat.
With regard to the available habitat and prey base in Oregon, I would imagine that the northeastern sector of the state, encompassing the Blue Mountains country, has a fairly solid ecological foundation for wolves. Some of the largest elk herds in the country are found in the Blues, and there is also a slate of other medium- to large-sized ungulate species: mule deer, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and pronghorn (the latter not a typical component of wolf diet, for sure). There is also a burgeoning population of moose in the Wallowa Mountains, a high and rugged range bordering Hells Canyon (which, on the border with Idaho, constitutes a stretch of remote and mostly roadless country). It is Hells Canyon, the Wallowa Mountains, and parts of the adjoining Blue Mountains (such as the John Day drainage) that have attracted dispersing Idaho wolves previously (as recently as the summer and fall of 2006). The health of cougar populations in this part of Oregon suggests the extent of the ungulate prey base.
Much of Eastern Oregon is sparsely populated; the southeastern desert has some of the lowest human densities of anyplace in the lower 48. But then again, the sagebrush steppe and canyonlands of that area are not ideal, historically or otherwise, wolf habitat. The Blue Mountains country to the immediate north and northwest has more people, but still not many — the largest settlements are in the vicinity of 15,000.
Obviously roadless areas and healthy ungulate populations are not all that is required to support wolf re-colonization, hence the intensity of these debates. The human carrying capacity for wolves is at issue, but I’m not sure that Eastern Oregon’s situation in that respect is much different than the Rocky Mountain states.
Living here in Oregon, I can tell you that the majority of folks want wolves here. Here in Central Oregon, The High Desert Museum has been educating people on wolves for years. It has made the way for wolves. We are ready for them, we want them. I do know that some of the best wolf habitat will be nearly impossible for wolves to migrate to. This is a topic at many of the discussions I have been to. So, though Oregon could technically support 2000 wolves, I doubt it could happen. The Southern Costal Range is just inaccesible to them.
With regard to Gina’s comment, certainly the Klamath Mountains, including the rich Siskiyou conifer forests, would comprise good wolf habitat on the southern Oregon/northern California border. Indeed, I’d say that the northeastern (as I described in an above post) and southwestern sections of Oregon would be the best candidates for supporting a number of packs.
And we can’t underestimate the wolf’s dispersal capabilities. I recently saw a mountain goat east of The Dalles, in the arid and empty stretches of the eastern Columbia River Gorge. Contacting Oregon Fish & Wildlife, I found out that the goat (which biologists have been tracking for some time) traveled all the way from the Elkhorn Mountains, here in northeastern Oregon, along the John Day River to its mouth at the Columbia. It currently occupies rather low elevation basalt hills, seemingly poor terrain for such an animal (the Blue and Wallowa Mountains support the highest mountain goat numbers in the state). Maybe in the spring and early summer it’ll again migrate to higher country.
If Midwestern wolves can slink and skulk their way from Wisconsin’s northwoods and Central Forest to the agricultural vistas of Illinois, I’d say intrepid juvenile wolves could travel along Oregon river drainages into central and western portions of the state. The entire breadth of the Blue Mountains — from the WA/ID/OR border in the northeast, to the Ochoco and Aldrich Mountains in the southwest — might funnel wolves into the central Cascades (where there are admittedly more people than the east).