"Wolves at the door: Wallowa County [Oregon] ranchers face their worst fears"
Terrible! Terrible! The vicious beasts actually dug up the carcass of a dead cow-
Wolves at the door: Wallowa County [Oregon] ranchers face their worst fears. By Kathleen Ellyn. Wallowa County Chieftain.
According to this reporter, not only did the bad wolves dig in a rancher’s bone pit, they left big scary tracks in the snow. And some squirrel hunters saw a pack of wolves right out in the open, up in a canyon, right in the middle of the day!!!!!!
While these horrible events were going on, some 60 silly local people were watching the film, the Lords of Nature, explaining that wolves might actually be good to have around.
Note: I understand this newspaper’s stories are only on-line for a week. So the link might disappear. That would be too bad because this story is remarkable for trying to make something out of nothing.
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.
86 Responses to "Wolves at the door: Wallowa County [Oregon] ranchers face their worst fears"
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The big,bad western rancher. A bunch of pathetic whiners.
This rancher had a week’s warning of the proximity of wolves, yet apparently took no measures to protect his stock – no fladry on his 8 acre pen (perfectly feasible, cost almost nothing for the plastic tape), only a perfunctory burial pit for carcasses. It’s like he was ignorant of any of the lessons learned in Idaho or Montana. It’s also possible that some ranchers are intentionally not protecting their stock in order to benefit from the ruckus when wolves pay a visit, trying to build public pressure to allow them to kill wolves on their own initiative.
Does anyone have reliable data on livestock losses in those portions of Montana and Idaho where wolves are prevalent, excluding areas where wolves are absent?
Quite the snsationalist, panicky article. Did this guy get some information from saveelk, lobo watch, or Rex Rammell?
If you only have a 2.5% margin of error on your profit for any business, you should strongly consider another business. I love it when the big bad wolf is blamed for ranchers on the edge of going out of business when they lose more cattle per year to disease and bad management practices. Hysteria seems to be ruling the country at the moment in all areas, and that can’t be good for anyone or anything
Private property, 100 yards from the house, a pack – not a loner. They find out later the cow was dug up – he called to get someone out there to PROVE that there were wolves there “before the snow melted”. (of course he probably didn’t need to do that, cuz’ the “authorities” would have taken his word — right?)
Now he’s using this “RAG” box – isn’t that one of the preferred “non-letal” means of avoiding wolf trouble – and he has a radio that lets him know the wolves are in the area.
He shot in the air to disperse the wolves rather than at them which might have meant a different kind of “solution”.
He’s keeping the cows in a small pasture next to the house to avoid further troubles.
Yep, it’s confirmed — this guy is a really bad example of what a rancher should be.
By the way, what SHOULD he have done?? Maybe just sold his land – or given it to a “greenie” trust – when he heard the wolves were in the area?? After all, they WERE “here first” —- right??
The problem is not so much the rancher. It’s the hysterical tone of the article. When you read what actually happened, it was very little.
The article though makes it sound like wolves digging up bones, appearing in broad daylight, leaving big tracks in the snow, and being near a ranchhouse is something both abnormal and terrifying.
Then the author of the article brings in a bunch of questionable information about unverified losses to wolves in Idaho in yet another effort to make it look like there is some big story here.
Maybe he didn’t shot at them because they are protected in Oregon.
So it’s OK to just let them chew on your cows — right??
They dug up some bone from his boneyard!
Right – they dug up some bone. As it turns out, evidently BEFORE they went after the cows/calves in the other pasture nearer to his house.
What would they have done if he hadn’t gone out with the pistol??
Come off it, Layton. He had a week’s notice of wolves, why didn’t he use fladry? Why didn’t he rebury his bone pit? Ranchers who know wolves are in the area shouldn’t just hope for the best, they should read some of the abundant material on how to cope with wolves and then try the methods available, at least fladry if nothing else is immediately at hand. If he was close enough to see the wolves so clearly at night, they may have been in range of rubber bullets, which are available form the ODFW. By the way, it’s currently illegal to shoot a wolf in Oregon, which is why he didn’t.
Wolves are in the Wallowa Valley, right? It’s illegal to shoot them, right? This being the case, what are local ranchers apparently doing to protect their stock? Damned little, it seems, apart from campaigning for the right to shoot wolves on sight. Ranchers have some responsibly to try and avoid wolf conflicts. This whole country is not here to provide a refuge for livestock operators. Other citizens have their own ideas about ecological health and wildlife which are every bit as important as the those of livestock interests. Ranchers have learned how to get along with wolves elsewhere. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Assoc. has decided not to support non-lethal tools, but to go solely for killing. Their road or no road, is their motto.
” Ranchers have some responsibly to try and avoid wolf conflicts. This whole country is not here to provide a refuge for livestock operators.”
C’mon TAZ, if a rancher can’t have a “refuge” on his own property where CAN he have one. Contrary to what you evidently believe there ARE still something known as private property rights. The last time I heard anyway.
It seems to me that he handled it the legal way, by scaring the wolves off — I would hope that I would have the same kind of patience, but I doubt it.
Come to think of it — wolves with evil on thier minds should get a pass — would a burglar get the same courtesy??
I’d ask the same question again “By the way, what SHOULD he have done?? Maybe just sold his land – or given it to a “greenie” trust – when he heard the wolves were in the area?? After all, they WERE “here first” —- right??
I really thought this piece was about the way the article was written.
Just another poor-me rancher sob story like the papers in the Northwest seem fascinated with judging by how many of them there have been lately.
Layton– Since when do wolves have “evil on their minds”? Wolves are wolves, and what they do is their nature. For a minute I thought you were talking about sport trophy hunters.
“Come to think of it — wolves with evil on thier minds should get a pass — would a burglar get the same courtesy??” The wolves don’t have “evil” on their minds, Layton, they have food on their minds. “Evil” is a human concept. Thieves? You wanna have a long discussion about who is and isn’t a thief, we’ll have to open a new post and wrangle about Americans “thieving” the hunting grounds of predators, Indians, grazing grounds of ungulates, on and on and on…
“By the way, what SHOULD he have done?? Maybe just sold his land – or given it to a “greenie” trust – when he heard the wolves were in the area?? After all, they WERE “here first” How about taking the minimal action of putting up fladry? The OCA approach is kind of like standing around barefoot in the dark waiting for the flood instead of stacking sandbags. It takes more to discourage wolves than leaving your window open. Protecting your private property doesn’t mean killing anything that threatens it. All the non-lethal proactive measures ARE ways to protect property against wolves. Like I say, the only solution the OCA can fathom is killing and you have the same traditional solution, a “solution” that has created a slaughter-house around most livestock operations.
Oh give me a break William — “evil on their minds” was an expression. Just how would you define it??
Maybe I should have said “wolves that were being wolves and were demonstrating behaviours and exhibiting actions consistent with intent to prey upon the rancher’s cattle”. Would be explicit enough to get the meaning across?
By the way, would anyone care to address the PRIVATE property aspect of this??
Article interpretation on this site is very interesting and diverse. Just like in the article, the 1% issue comes up again and again, when comparing every cow and calf in Idaho, verses operators who are exposed to depredation. Now it’s 2.5% “profit margin”, when it’s 2.5% of TOTAL profits, huge difference. Layton I’ll address private property, especially when it’s property I use to feed my family. “It’s private”, I have the right to defend it and my lively hood, that’s why my dad is deaf in one ear and has a purple heart in his top drawer..
Well, you have to getthe props for recycling something for which there was no need! I wish it had told just how the dead cow died – just for reference
Give me a break! Animals cannot and do not recognize “private property”. The deer don’t recognize my private property rights and not eat the apples off my trees; but I don’t lie there at night with the window open and a shotgun in my lap ready to shoot any deer that enters my yard looking for a midnight snack! If I did I’m fairly confident that I would have an issue with Fish and Game. I fence my trees. I fence them BEFORE the deer come. The point here is that nothing was done BEFORE the wolves arrived. The carcass, apparently, wasn’t buried very deep; probably just some dirt thrown over it, and that’s probably what attracted the wolves in the first place. The other point is, as Ralph pointed out, that a few thousand domestic animals have been lost to wolves since re-introduction, while tens of thousands are lost every year to disease, weather, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, eagles, birthing problems etc., etc. Here we have a “story” where nothing even happened, not one animal was lost; yet because it involved wolves the author makes it sound like the world as we know it is about to end.
” Give me a break” if your lively hood was derived from those apples, I am sure the tune would be a little different. Keeping a few trees “corraled” in your back yard, is a little different than managing a few hundred or thousand head of cows and calves on thousands of acres.
Part of my livelihood does, I sell them; but it would not matter. Fish and Game isn’t going to allow me to sit there picking off deer out of season in any case.
BTW, what about MY private property rights when cows trample my veggie garden? The State of Montana says that it’s “open range” and my responsibility to fence cows out. I guess some folks just wonder why ranchers should have more rights than other folks?
“Maybe I should have said “wolves that were being wolves and were demonstrating behaviours and exhibiting actions consistent with intent to prey upon the rancher’s cattle”. Would be explicit enough to get the meaning across? ”
Yeah, that’s more like it.
Private property: No question the rancher has the right to protect his private property, but first by TRYING NON-LETHAL MEANS FIRST. I think Oregon citizens should also have the obligation to subsidize these methods by a special tax or allotment of state funds. Ditto at the fed level. Not just compensation, but making non-lethal tools available to all ranchers in a wolf area, not just to those who are imminently threatened. I don’t believe ranchers should have the right to initiate a lethal solution because many will then rely solely on that method w/o recourse to non-lethal means. Furthermore, judging from the comments I have heard at numerous wolf “meetings” from ranchers, some would simply take the opportunity to kill every wolf they see within a couple of miles of their stock. You know all these arguments, Layton. I’m just practicing for the public arena.
” I think Oregon citizens should also have the obligation to subsidize these methods by a special tax or allotment of state funds. Ditto at the fed level. Not just compensation, but making non-lethal tools available to all ranchers in a wolf area, not just to those who are imminently threatened.’
With all do respect I pay enough fucking taxes already as an Oregonian.
“Here we have a “story” where nothing even happened, not one animal was lost; yet because it involved wolves the author makes it sound like the world as we know it is about to end.”
If you read the story having already formed a viewpoint you could read it (as you point out) as a coming catastrophe. However if you read it and just take it for what it says, it isn’t a big deal.
Layton, the title of the piece foretells of comming disaster:
“Ranchers face their worst fears”.
Their worst fears are that some wolves dig up a dead cow?
With thousands of animals lost to weather every year I would think their worst fears would be winter!
Actually FWP does have programs to mitigate problem animals in areas where they are causing problems with ag growers..
Now on the open range situation, I don’t agree with the open range laws, but that is more of a Federal program/law than a state law, and it goes back a long ways, it would almost take an act of congress to change the open range laws…
“Actually FWP does have programs to mitigate problem animals in areas where they are causing problems with ag growers..”
Just as there are many, many programs, both public and private, to help ranchers with wolf problems. Yet ranchers seem to insist on the “it’s us against the world” attitude.
Alan, was it open range when you purchased the property, I’ll bet YES. As for Ralph’s comments he is correct, ranchers loose cattle and sheep to all sorts of other issue’s and they try to minimize those as well. Cattle and sheep killed by wolves is in addition to all the other losses. Don’t get me wrong I am not a fan of public land grazing, but there is a big difference in my mind with public and private land and rights. Managing a herd of trees is different than livestock. Most ranchers I know live by the philosophy, watch your pennies and your dollars may come, so one cow one calf is important. As for livestock losses to domestic dogs etc. if you live in open range country, you already know, any pet that shows fatal aggresion to ANY livestock is history.
“Alan, was it open range when you purchased the property, I’ll bet YES.” And were there predators and other wildlife here when the ranchers bought (or homesteaded, or whatever) their spreads? I’ll bet YES. And don’t tell me about the wolves being “forced on them” by the feds re-introduction, because A) This story is about Oregon and no wolves have been reintroduced there; and B) Even in the Rockies, ranchers should be thankfull that they were re-introduced, because they were on the way down from Canada anyway. The re-introduction simply sped the process up and allowed for things like the 10j rule etc. rather than what would have been, and probably still would be, full ESA protection.
I think the big thing here is what many of us see as an overreaction to wolves. Here we have a non story. If dogs or a mountain lion or a bear had dug up this carcass, or been seen “up in a canyon, right in the middle of day”, would we see this story? Whenever wolves are involved, even when they are involved in nothing, it is instant hysteria, “ranchers worst fears”.
The losses to wolves just do not justify the hysteria. Where are the hysterical stories about losses to coyotes or bears or even eagles for God’s sake? Sories like this have one purpose and one purpose only, to get people riled up. It does not matter that not one animal was lost. It does not matter that, even in heavy wolf country, wolves are a relatively minor cause of livestock loss. If a rancher losses a hundred head to a winter storm it’s a non story, but if a pack of wolves digs up a poorly buried carcass it’s his “worst fear”. It’s out of balance to reality.
I don’t have a problem with a rancher shooting a predator attacking his stock, as long as every non lethal effort was made to keep them at bay first. Here, the only effort made, even though the rancher was told that wolves were in the area a week ahead of time, was to sleep with the window open. How about fladry, or proper carcass disposal or maybe an extra hand riding range for a week or so?
And how about a little balance in these “stories”?
That’s the problem with problem dogs and harassing wildlife and livestock. The dogs are turned loose, they do what comes naturally, and are killed. And that does nothing about the problem….the humans who own the dogs and are irresponsible enough to not train them or fence them. My wife was driving on our dirt road in Vermont when a fawn suddenly came out of the woods. No time to brake. Dog appears, one I didn’t recognize from our area, and then ran away. The fawn died in my arms as my wife was heading back to the house. If I knew who the owner was, I would have turned him in, but then, the dog would be killed, and he would be free to get another dog and be just as irresponsible. It makes no sense at all from a problem solving point of view to take that approach; the human owner is the real cause of the problem. Unfortunately, most states’ laws fail to hold the human responsible and accountable for the dog’s natural instincts.
If you want balance in the stories, the best thing to do would be get a hold of the reporters writing the stories, or do some opt ed pieces for the various news papers, I know I have been successful quite often writing on certain subjects concerning wildlife issues
Alan, I know a lot of ranchers that purchased or leased property the last 50 yrs. where the notion of a wolf problem wasn’t even considered, they knew full well, they would be dealing with a few coyotes, MAYBE a lion or bear, and certainly the enviroment, and sickness, so for those folks this is new territory. As for being big news, I see the headlines coming from both sides, and the numbers game being played both ways. Let a highly concentrated group of wolves get mange, and because it was used as a control method 100 yrs ago, it is man’s hideous revenge and the sky is falling, even though mange has been part of our enviroment for a lot longer than a century or two. As you say many things kill livestock, and so with wolves, and when those deaths occur it’s sells newspapers, and it will for many years to come.
“…they would be dealing with a few coyotes, MAYBE a lion or bear, and certainly the enviroment, and sickness, so for those folks this is new territory….” All of which kill far, far more head than do wolves. I have even heard it suggested that, since wolves control coyote populations, that wolf kills may merely be replacing kills that would have been made by coyotes in the absence of wolves, rather than adding to them. Don’t know if that is true or not.
Save Bears is right, especially in this case. It is the reporter at fault here. What the rancher did wrong is to not prepare, when he knew that wolves were in the area; but THAT NIGHT he seemed to do everything right. He shot in the air, etc. He didn’t overreact and start shooting wolves. I applaud him for that.
Hopefully he will be better prepared next time with non lethal preventables. This was a non story that the reporter sensationalized.
Regarding mange: As I understand it sarcoptic mange is not native and was introduced to the area by the Montana state veterinarian for the express purpose of controlling wolves and coyotes. You are right, it has been around for ever; just not here. Just like brucellosis; the bison pay the price, but the ranchers who brought the disease here in infected cattle are the ones to blame.
“……..it sells newspapers…..” You said it all right there, buddy.
“and because it was used as a control method 100 yrs ago, it is man’s hideous revenge and the sky is falling, even though mange has been part of our enviroment for a lot longer than a century or two..”
If mange was introduced 100 yrs ago to “manage” wolves, how has mange been part of our environment for a lot longer than a century or two?
Mange was specifically introduced to extirpate a species of animal. Is that ethical?
G-sorry I missed one of your pointed reply’s, tell me again where mange originated, then was brought to Montana, and introduced.
Sarcoptic mange, brucellosis, coyote vs wolf control, etc. all hot topics here. Enjoyed your input, keep feeding those deer. cheers
Anybody that thinks articles are wrote, so that we actually get truthful information is fooling themselves, reporters write articles that sell papers, I have seen reporters fired because they don’t write sensationalism, but try to write factual articles and in this day and age of the internet and blogs, the pressure is really on!
Another example of editing for the audiance
I’m amazed. A story about something a wolf might have killed gets as much space as a homicide!
In other news, a fox may have killed a missing hen out of a hen house.
It is unfortunate Ralph, that many on both sides of this issue considered is a murder, when livestock or a wolf is killed!
Yes. The degree of emotion is amazing and appalling, and I’m not free of it myself.
I don’t consider it murder; but then, I am plagued according to a few on this list by the burden of being a lawyer.
Focus on the behaviors of both parties, and the relative levels of responsibility that should be taken to prevent conflicts. Given that approach, I think any reasonable person would admit the accountability is on the human actor in this scenario. And yes, I am talking about both the rancher and the local media to not sensationalize. But then, these days, asking media to report the “Facts, M’am, only the facts”, doesn’t sell newspapers; one must pander to the supporting community, be it the western local or the national media.
Your rigiht Jeff that should sell some papers, especially a mysterious death. Anyone rememeber the early 70’s when it was the “cattle mutilators” or a good excuse for teenagers to drive around at night avoiding homework, to help protect the local livestock, and maybe drink beer and… That sold a few papers.
Not only that but this is the second incarnaton of this story, with a different header. depending on how many comments it gets. It may even go a third time, with a different header which will be even more attention grabbing. Then as it gets retold over and over in the websites there is every chance that stories of packs of ravageing wolves trapping defensless ranchers in there homes…….
I wonder if saving all that livestock, avoiding homework and… is why my spelling and grammar is so shitty.
Layton, I don’t know what depth is appropriate to bury a carcass that will escape detection from a wolf, but it seems to me that if the rancher did in fact know that wolves were in the area the responsible thing to protect his investment would have been to research it in depth and do what he could with his new-found knowledge. It seems that burying carcasses that close to the house and the corral would not be a wise choice anyway. Now, to address the private property concern, if he had done what he could to prevent the wolves from attacking and they still did it, then he does have a right to defense of property. Using the pistol to scare them off an not shoot them was a responsible way to deal with it. My main problem with the article itself is that it is so sensationalist, and as you put it at times, tinfoil hats are being worn. It is making a mountain out of a molehill. No cattle died, the wolves left, end of story.
Layton just likes to ramp things up…like Glenn Beck. And he should do some reading on the history and development of private property rights from the English conception of “good of the commons”. I think he would find that never, since that concept came into being, has there ever been an unfettered private property right. But then, he may be confusing private property rights with the rights of the royals….~S~
Maybe we should get it straight just WHO (or is it whom) did the “sensationalizing” in this whole mess.
First of all, the offending paragraph in the article is the TENTH one written in the newspaper. It says:
“Riggs and Steen also discovered that the wolves had dug up a dead cow Patton had buried about a half mile east of the ranch.”
It mentions the action in passing and does NOT make a big deal of it. Remember, it’s the tenth paragraph.
Now we come to the “headline” about the article on this blog. Yes, it IS the headline. It says:
“Terrible! Terrible! The vicious beasts actually dug up the carcass of a dead cow-”
It says it in bold, in a much larger type face and the emphasis is added by the author.
Now — exactly where did the “sensationalism” come from??
Prowolf says: “It seems that burying carcasses that close to the house and the corral would not be a wise choice anyway.”
I’m not sure what “close to the house” is in Wyoming, but where I live that is a bit far away to be called “close”. Yes, I do realize this happened in Oregon – Prowolf is from Wyoming.
JimT says: “Layton just likes to ramp things up…like Glenn Beck”
I don’t think I ramped a darn thing up here, in fact I think that I have said – in several ways – that the “ramping up” in this story is strictly with this blog. Nope, I didn’t say it in that many words, but I’ve pointed to it.
The headline on the article says that “Wallowa county ranchers are facing their worst fears”. I would think that, if I were a rancher, one of my worst fears would be a pack of wolves after my calves. This guy chose to “face” that fear, not by shooting to kill, but by trying other, non-fatal, means, even on his own private property. And now he gets crucified for it.
I really don’t think that there is ANY way that ANYONE can do something to protect his property (animals), anywhere, including on his own land, from the wolves that you folks would buy!!
There is no doubt I played up their silly article. I’m tired of reading crap like this, so why not lay on a little sarcasm?
Time to go to bed even though there are wolves out there right now making scary tracks in the snow (and yellow marks too). We can wait until morning to shake in our shoes. 😉
I find it terribly ironic that Layton–of all people–is criticizing folks for employing a bit of sarcasm!
Personally, I don’t have a problem with the rancher’s behavior (other than calling 911…and that’s just funny). However, the hyperbole in this story is deplorable (and yes, reminiscent of Glenn Beck):
Oh no! A wild animal dug up a dead cow! Call 911! Call the National Guard! Our worst fears have been realized!
Give me a break.
I have been trying to envision what it would be like for a small rancher dealing with a new threat to my livelihood, and wondering what it would feel like to wake up in the middle of the night to a bunch of bawling calves and cows huddled in a corner of the pasture, in response to a predation threat. I am not sure whether the article is an artificially worked up frenzy, or not. I imagine some of this may well have played out exactly as it happened. Middle of the night adrenaline rushed scurry by the rancher to get out to the pasture, and cranking off a shot or two from the pistola to scare away the intruders.
Gotta figure a dug up cow carcass a half mile from the house actually is a concern. A human runner can cover 880 yards in less than two minutes, or maybe under a minute and a half for a wolf. That is less than half the time it takes me to brush my teeth with my 2 minute timer electric toothbrush. Not much time at all if you think about it. That is one concern.
The second is that having tasted cow flesh, although a bit ripe and maybe even tastier, signals to the wolf that this might be pretty good stuff and a source is available real close. AND, it doesn’t take as much work as a deer or an elk.
Is the shallow (we really don’t know for sure, now do we) grave for the bone yard the cause. Maybe. Shame on that rancher. All of this is a new risk and threat, as well as potential cost for animals directly killed by wolves or weight loss from fear of predation for ranchers of all types in OR. If your first introduction to the wolf in OR is a bunch of dead sheep killed in a surplus incident near Baker, maybe you do have something to worry about.
What I find so interesting is that advocate “conservationsists” who don’t make their living off the land, but do so working for a non-profit, state or federal agency, or maybe a university, are a bit self-righteous and condescending toward the values held and actions taken by some poor guy in OR (could as easily be ID, MT, WY, WI, MN, MI, or WA) taking steps to protect his way of making a living for himself and his family.
Be creative, and walk a mile or two in the shoes of these small ranchers (not just the big corporate public land grazers) and see if you feel the same way.
And Ralph, do remember Mike from Chicago thought calling the “authorities” – 911 in this case- is the appropriate way of dealing with a wildlife emergency, rather than self-help. Depends on where you live, I guess. And, hey, they responded. Who could ask for more?
“I find it terribly ironic that Layton–of all people–is criticizing folks for employing a bit of sarcasm!”
I’m not critisizing anyone for sarcasm — sensationalism on the other hand seems to run rampant in this case.
Everyone handles something like this differently.
For instance, the reporter could have said “some wolves came to a guy’s ranch, nothing happened” It would have been true but wouldn’t have sold many newspapers.
Ralph could have said “here’s and article about some wolves in Oregon, they dug up a cow”. True, but not much of an attention getter.
If the wolves would have made me wake up in the middle of the night and my stock was (apparently) being attacked. I might have shot with a different goal in mind and NOT called 911. Not much attention in that case either.
I wish I had the talent (or even the desire) to express things the way WM does. I don’t, but it (my way) sure DOES serve as an “attention getter”. 8)
“For instance, the reporter could have said “some wolves came to a guy’s ranch, nothing happened” It would have been true but wouldn’t have sold many newspapers.”
Right. So the reporter could have told the truth, but why be truthful when sensationalism and hyperbole sell newspapers. Like I said, this one could’ve come right off of Faux News.
Care to comment on the NEXT paragraph in the same post?
You mean where Ralph made fun of the reporter for yet again reporting on nothing? Sure, I’ll bite: Well done, Ralph!
As mentioned before it sounds like the “bone pit ” was probably not deep enough. In which case something else could well have dug it up. I believe that “Best Management Practices” besides having a optimal depth for such a pit also call for lime to be spread on top of the dead animal so that these incidents do not occur. Has anyone heard about how deep this guys pit was and if he spread lime?
The language in the story is incredibly theatrical but I guess it might have to be because there does not seem to be much in the way of content.
Prowolf says: “It seems that burying carcasses that close to the house and the corral would not be a wise choice anyway.”
I’m not sure what “close to the house” is in Wyoming, but where I live that is a bit far away to be called “close”. Yes, I do realize this happened in Oregon – Prowolf is from Wyoming.
Layton, I guess for some reason I was under the impression that the bone pit was much closer to the house for some reason. (In Wyoming, our definition of “close to the house” is the same as Oregon’s and Idaho’s. 🙂 ) If the wolves dug up bones that far away then I think the guy was in just a wee bit of a panic. Shooting into the air to scare wolves off is certainly a good way to deal with wolves coming onto his land, and maybe they will think twice about coming back. I guess my problem is that the article is just making a bigger deal out of it than it was.
ProWolf in WY
I think maybe the reporter was irritated that 60 local residents were watching “Lords of Nature.” It’s a very pro wolf video. So many folks watching it in this agricultural area might have been of real concern to the newspaper — folks out there willingly exposing themselves to a message subversive of the old west mythology.
Sounds to me like Patton did everything right. Why would someone take all of the precautions to protect their ranch from wolves if there are no wolves around (as the case was until very recently). Some of you claim that this rancher is ignorant or irresponsible because of his lack of precautions. He had a weeks notice that wolves were in the area, but remember that this is also calving season and it sounds like he has quite a few cows. Maybe because of this he was a little busy. As far as putting tape on the fence, burying the cows deep, and covering them with lime he likely didn’t think to do so because there were no wolves in the area before. If I die in the desert because I didn’t have my life-vest on, please don’t call me irresponsible and ignorant.
There were 79 at the Enterprise showing in Wallowa County. At the Baker City showing the day before, put on by the same sponsors, there were 160, standing room only. Baker County is where two wolves killed some livestock last summer and were then themselves killed. Plenty of people in Wallowa County are open-minded about wolves, but not The Chieftain, which ran the story. An interesting moment occurred when one of the ranchers on the discussion panel, who lost a calf to the Baker County wolves, asked how many would takes a 2.5% cut in (gross) income to support wolves (the percentage he claimed the wolves had cost him). About half the audience raised their hands.
Thanks for the information because it is so different than the way this area is usually pictured by most of the media.
Ralph, enlightenment about predators can be bad in places like that. Taz, it is interesting that so many people raised their hands with the 2.5% question. If someone has that much of a profit it seems to me they would be doing what they could to keep their investment safe. The rancher who said that probably has cows out in BFE and just waits for them to come home.
That panelist, Tik Moore, claimed five calves, was paid for one. There’s often disagreement over compensation for obvious reasons. Carcasses are usually found long hours or days after the kill, evidence is unclear. The other panelist in Baker City, Kurt Jacobs, who lost a bunch of sheep to the same wolves, was satisfied with his compensation (by Defenders). Both these ranchers have gone on record as being willing to get along with wolves if they can, but on the other hand they want all ranchers to be able to kill wolves on their own initiative. There are plenty of stockmen who are not shy about saying they’ll kill every wolf they can, so giving them the initiative to do so is a non-starter for wolf advocates. These “kill wolves” ranchers were pretty vocal at the Enterprise showing, and even on the panel one of their group, Todd Nash, was defiantly candid on this subject.
By the way, I believe the 2.5% figure is a percentage of the gross, not the profit. I believe a lot of living expenses are included in the business overhead on a family-owned ranch, so “profit” can be a slippery figure to pin down.
One has to remember that the ranch property is increasing at approximately the same rate as the stock market. Over a 100 year period the stock market increases approximately 9% a year. This has been well research by several commercial/ranch appraisers in Southwest Montana. Therefore if the net profit is 2.5% with a 9% appreciation then the overall return is 11.5%. The return on investment is a stream of benefits which may and may not be monetary. Is the way of life a benefit?
++Taz, it is interesting that so many people raised their hands with the 2.5% question.++
Questions of that nature, and the impromptu show of hands in a group forum of affected people is hardly a valid survey. Farmers and ranchers are nortious for not telling the truth in that regard, and are prone to understatement of their financial condition, unless it is to the bank.
Elk275 raises a good point. The return on farmer/rancher’s investment is a little more complicated than margins (profit based on) net cow – calf production, for example, as some here seem to think. Ranchers are typically cash poor, bet on the coming crop year, and some need to convince the bank things will work out over the long-term. Net change in the value of some assets like land, or water rights if you have them, does have a tendency to increase over the long term, but that doesn’t mean there are not big cyclical swings over several years in your own area. Other assets in use depreciate at a pretty high rate, and some costs tend to go only one direction – up. And then there is the weather and all that entails – wet year/dry year – with dry years the norm for sometime in the West. That has always been a problem. (I am not going to discuss the publc lands grazing, for those ranchers who have it. Not all ranches get it, and that is the focus of my comment).
In fact, I am going out on a limb here to say that a fair percentage of those who post here, by training, chosen profession, or experience, know little about business, or business calculations. They couldn’t tell you the differences contained on basic financial documents, like a statement of retained earnings, income statement and a balance sheet and what each means. And, if you gave them each of the documents to do an analysis of financial condition, they wouldn’t be able to tell whether a business is solvent, making money in a given financial period, or a business valution for purposes of a sale or what it would generate on a loan to value. Calculation of a metric like RONA (return on net assets) is probably a term they have never heard before, let alone understand its result.
One other thing gets pushed aside, as in Taz’s comments. Everybody focuses on number of proven up wolf kill claims for compensation. Ranchers will tell you they don’t get compensation for all they lose from wolves – probably correct. There is very litte, if any, discussion of the additional costs (profit not made) from cattle weight loss in the presence of predators, mabye even a lower successful pregnancy rate. If you raise beef cows, and they don’t gain that extra 100 pounds before going to market, which is the direct cause of a new predator you are likely going to be pissed. Who pays for the additional labor and materials cost for the “bone pit?” Yeah, dig it deeper and throw lime on it. Maybe fence it off, with wolf proof wire. Make and put up a fladry whenever and wherever you think wolves will be. Buy, train and feed those big wolf deterring dogs to guard your herds or hire an extra herder. Again, who pays for this?
These are NEW costs the rancher in OR, or wherever, that are incurred as a direct consequence of new wolf presence at the hands of the federal government. I think they have every right to complain, and maybe even to seek cost-sharing money through a state or federal program for this purpose.
I’ll add, when out on public grazing allotments, cows are checked around once a month, according to Todd Nash, whose allotment is within the Imnaha pack’s territory.
Wolves are hardly “new” predators and I doubt they are the only predator in Wallowa County.
As far as the carcass pit and lime, I believe that they are BMP’s (Best Management Practices) that should be followed regardless of the predator situation.
Regarding who pays for business expenses incurred by anyone (ranchers, factory owners, whatever), well I guess the owner of said business in the short run. In the long run it gets passed down to the consumer. That’s the cost of doing business, is it not?
I also don’t think that any of that is “new” cost. Even if wolves are not present certain business practices need to be or should be followed and, again they are not the only predator around. Besides, Wildlife Services does not to my knowledge send bills to ranchers or farmers and if they do I seriously doubt it is for the true cost of predator control.
“These are NEW costs the rancher in OR, or wherever, that are incurred as a direct consequence of new wolf presence at the hands of the federal government.”
Whether the costs incurred by ranchers because of wolves are new makes no difference whatsoever. The point is, wolves are part of the wild landscape; as such, losses to wolves are no different than losses caused because of the weather. Do we–as a society–reimburse ranchers when a cold snap kills 100 of their cattle? What about a flood? No. And what if they have never experienced a flood before (i.e. the costs incurred were new), do we make a special exception? Maybe in the case of natural disasters (where the federal govt. Westerners love to hate intervenes), but generally, no.
Why should wolves be any different?
The last I have heard, even though Obama and friends DID get Health “control” in, they still had some work to do on weather control. There are still a (very) few things that are left to nature.
JB, you can’t control the weather.
So your argument is you should allow people to kill wolves because people can kill wolves?
Last year when the ranchers lost so many cattle in Eastern Montana due to the cold snap and storms, there was a government program that compensated them for the loss, just as there are government programs that compensate farmers when storms destroy crops. There are quite a few programs that compensate for natural happens..
opps, should have been happenings…
Chris and JB,
I’m sure you know that the reference point for “new predator” means that wolves were not a risk incurred in recent times (last 90 years or so). And but for, the federal government’s decision to reintroduce wolves it would not constitute a new risk, hence cost, for the rancher. This is a totally different catagory of risk than completely fortuitous weather, JB. I completely understand your argument. However, the individual rancher, from an equity and undue burden standpoint, has the better case, in my view.
Give them a grant demonstration program for preventive and non-lethal control, maybe tax credit incentives, or other creative means to make some of their arguments go away. These are a hellofalot more deserved than paying big agribusiness in the midwest for not growing corn or wheat, or most disgusting tobacco subsidies in the south that was in place for many years.
I haven’t kept up with this, but what used to be the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) used to have cost-sharing programs for installing sprinkler irrigation systems, and developing soil and crop rotation conservation plans for cooperators. The agency is now has a different name, but its mission, I think, is still the same. Seems like they might be a good candidate to administer USDA funds for the purpose described above. Just thinking outloud.
I would think some wolf advocates would find value in such a program that lessens the sting for those directly affected by the reintroduction/repopulation.
“This is a totally different catagory of risk than completely fortuitous weather, JB.”
That all depends upon how you conceptualize risk.
So let me ask a question: What risks should ranchers face? Any? Or should we just guarantee them that if they put livestock on the landscape, someone is going to pay them?
A “moral hazard” occurs when individuals behave differently because they are insulated from risk. In the world you would make–where ranchers get free reimbursement for all of the ills that befall their product–all of the risk is born by the taxpayer (i.e. society) and thus, the rancher has no incentive to adopt BMPs. Why expend money/effort to keep your stock safe when the government reimburses you for every loss?
This system of heavily-subsidized agriculture on marginally suitable landscapes is the CAUSE of many of our environmental problems. Throwing more money at ranchers in an effort to appease them only exacerbates this problem and prolongs efforts to find solutions.
– – – –
“I would think some wolf advocates would find value in such a program that lessens the sting for those directly affected by the reintroduction/repopulation.”
I did; until I saw that–on average–it made no difference to the people being reimbursed.
It seems you have hardened recently in your views. If there is any hope for succssful, relatively conflict free, wolf reintroduction to Eastern OR or Eastern WA, or elsewhere there has to be some sort of a carrot for the small rancher. I fear the alternative is 3S. It will happen in a very matter – of – fact way.
These states simply won’t care, won’t seriously investigate mysterious disappearances of collared or uncollared wolves, and the FBI will become a game incident investigation service (like that is a good use of taxpayer dollars). Ranchers implicated will just clam up, and we will have wasted even more money, and probably not get any convictions, and wolf repopulation will be slower for sure.
For BMP’s to work there has to be an incentive for the rancher to see a gain on his end – not just avoiding losses caused by wolves, if he spends his own money. This has been tried for decades with the agricultural BMP’s which were mandated under the Clean Water Act. I can’t say there has been great success. I see no greater success in livestock country unless there is a good faith effort by federal taxpayers to foot a portion of the bill.
As for taking private marginal lands out of production, which are a source of environmental degradation, it won’t happen.
I have no problem with carrots, so long as they’re used to reward good behavior and not simply handed out as another subsidy.
“As for taking private marginal lands out of production, which are a source of environmental degradation, it won’t happen.”
It will if the subsidies go away.
Unless I missed something, these particular wolves did not kill any livestock they just dug up a dead one, and scared the he!! out of some of the live ones.
I’m sure that Wallowa area had other predators such as coyotes, bears and mountain lions. As such, I would think that an individuals rancher would have a somewhat fixed cost for predation control. The addition of one or two wolf packs (at present) should not increase that fixed cost that much. Moreover, even in states where the wolf population is higher – Idaho, Montana, the Great Lakes, predation by wolves on livestock is down the list of mortality causes for livestock. So, while some may think this is an entirely new problem, I have to disagree. Predation existed before the wolves moved back in and it still exists.
There are a couple of private groups that compensate for wolf depredations and the purchase of preventative measures. Is it perfect? No. Do they dole out the compensation for any and every livestock predations? No. However, I think it speaks well of people who are willing to pony up the bucks to compensate for wolf depredations. Some of the states have their own compensation programs and my guess is that some if not all of that money comes from tax dollars that citizens of the state pay. There are funds and programs available for livestock producers to take advantage of if they choose to do so. Again as far as I know, there are no other wildlife groups doing this sort of thing for a coyote depredation say.
As far as an undue burden, that’s crazy. People go into any business they should know what the benefits and problems they will encounter. What difference does it make if a wolf kills a cow or a coyote does?
Sorry for the rant folks. Gotta go, it’s grass cutting season and my goats are on strike!
++What difference does it make if a wolf kills a cow or a coyote does?++
For starters, the rules on killing coyotes that threaten your livestock are a whole lot more flexible, if we are still speaking of OR. While these particular wolves haven’t gotten into trouble yet, the signs are there to suggest it will eventually be an event of some sort that results in lethal control. And at this point, I don’t know whether OR ranchers have access to a compensation program. Did the sheep rancher near Baker receive any compensation for the 30+ head he lost last year?
WA, in its draft wolf management plan, discussed a very well thought out conceptual program for compensation and proving up claims that brought initial support from the livestock groups as you expect it might. This was based on managing for a small number of wolves AND the legislature would have to fund the program. Query whether the support remains, since some advocates want more wolves, and there is no enforceable obligation for the legislature to fund the program.
My take, enough with the subsidy. Sink or swim, 20?? all handouts gone, learn to manage the ranching business as a business. Private land grazing, you manage as a business, public land you have issue’s you make a call, and just like a landlord it will be addressed accordingly(till it’s over). Prices to the consumer will go up, good rancher/business men will make money. Coffee shop and bar stoolers won’t. __ Meat prices go up I have a choice whether to buy or not. Taxes for subsidies go up, I have no choice!! I try to support ranching/farming when it’s a legit business, not as a welfare sink hole.
This has been quite the interesting thread!!! I live in Wallowa county and know Karl. Let me first say that Karl is a class act and is by no means a radical anti wolf operative. He is a rancher and is concerned about his ability to protect his lively hood as most of us are. I have personally watched Karl nurse calves that many ranchers would deem lost because he cares about the animals that he stewards over. There is fear that these animals he cares for face a potential threat. It seems that through this thread there have been a few post that have demonized him for his concern. Karl acted in the interest of his animals and the wolves. He didn’t demonize the wolves or take matters into his own hands. He followed the proper steps and the wolves and his stock were spared.
Does anybody here KNOW (as opposed to having an opinion) if the rancher involved with this incident has any grazing allotments??
This happened on PRIVATE land — he owns it, not the government. It seems that that fact doesn’t mean much to folks here.
Also, I keep hearing that “wolves kill far fewer head of livestock than several other things do – disease, dogs, coyotes, etc” (yes, I’m paraphrasing). My question is “so what”? These folks have been dealing with those other causes for years, even for generations. I’m sure that they take them into account.
Wolves on their PRIVATE land, OTOH are something new and NOT self induced. The expenses incurred – for either legal, non-lethal prevention, or for unexpected losses are NOT something they should be used to.
VLW – You’re right about Karl. He drove off the wolves w/o loss to them or to him. That’s the ideal. I think the question is, and this doesn’t really reflect on Karl, is why the ranchers in general in that area hadn’t acted more proactively, since wolves have been reported there for a week before they showed up at the ranch. Actually there had been wolf sightings, unconfirmed, for several months in that neighborhood. It may be partly the ODFW’s fault in not providing help quickly, I don’t know. But now there’s no excuse for not getting on top of it. At the very least carcass pits should be dug deeper and fladry used where possible.