Opinion in the Oregonian-

The Oregonian is the state’s leading newspaper. They printed an editorial telling the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife not to be so quick to kill wolves just because some livestock were killed.  That is fine with me, but I’d really see the additional argument that in deciding to kill from among the small number of Oregon wolves, there ought to be some attempt to kill those wolves likely to actually have done the deed, and to do so within a reasonable time.  Otherwise it is just revenge.

Unlike what the paper writes of Idaho and Montana which they think of as places where experience has been gained in controlling wolves, these states now make almost no attempt to match depredations with wolves.  They just go in and kill entire packs for any tiny reason.

Presumably we are not medievalists who believe in retribution against animals of a species because of the acts of one or two of the members, but all we have to do is examine some of the policies now in force to see that those in power are not far from that mindset.

Wolves in Oregon: Don’t be so quick on the trigger. Saturday, July 10, 2010, 3:35 PM. PDT
The Oregonian Editorial Board

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

25 Responses to Wolves in Oregon: Don't be so quick on the trigger

  1. Mike says:

    The sooner gas prices skyrocket, the better off wildlife will be. A lot of four wheelers, helicopters and pickups are going to be sitting in garages when gas hits $10 a gallon.

    • Elk275 says:

      So is your mode of transportation. The Gallatin National Forest is five miles south of my home; it is a 30 hour drive from yours.

    • WM says:


      I am thinking that would put long range traveller (from Chicago) in front of a computer more than on the road. Fewer people traveling long distances to visit the West could change the dynamics quite a bit ($10 gas would hit the airlines too). Lower visitation to YNP/Teton/RMNP, the Winds, and whole host of other places. I could live with that.

      Mike, wouldn’t that also reduce the need for the commercial services you provide for park visitors?

      Be careful what you wish for. It just might _________!

    • Mike says:

      The higher cost would force group travel such as train and airplane; with of course rentals near the parks. People would still spend the money to see the wonders, but those who “patrol” the park and forests edges with guns and ATV’s/pickups on a regular basis would likely be the ones hurt the most, which can only be beneficial to the wildlife.

      I observed some interesting things the last few years in the national parks when gas prices were around 3$. The families still came as they were doing a week long vacation and budgeted for it. I did see less local visits – and a considerable reduction in gas guzzlers.

      My car gets 33 mpg highway, so $10 a gallon gas wouldn’t stop me from visiting the parks. It would however, force others to get more fuel efficient vehicles ,and of course this means less 4×4’s which would be a wonderful thing for wildlife.

      We will be there soon, folks. It’s only a matter of time.

      I exepct to see electric vehicles and hybrids dominting the roads not all that long from now.

    • Elk275 says:

      ++We will be there soon, folks. It’s only a matter of time.++

      The higher wages will match the price of gas negating any change. When I worked in Yellowstone Park in 70, 71 and 72, I made $3.00 an hour and gas cost 29.9 cents a gallon. My VW had a ten gallon tank and it cost me one hour of work to fill it up. My badly hail damaged Forrester has a 16 gallon tank and it cost about $45 to fill it up or about one half hour of work, that’s if I stay off this forum and work.

      There is no way the American people are going to agree to your concept of $10 a gallon gas so that wildlife will have increased protection from human incursions. Sometimes, I think that you and Jon live on a different planet.

    • Mike says:

      ++There is no way the American people are going to agree to your concept of $10 a gallon gas so that wildlife will have increased protection from human incursions. Sometimes, I think that you and Jon live on a different planet.

      I never said that, which may be causing part of your confusion. I also never said $10 a gallon gas would be economically positive for us. Of course it would hurt the economy and ruin many lives within the context of how we live them currentlyime. But this *is* a wildlife blog and I’ve theorized the effects of increased gas prices on wild animals and remote places for a long time now(it’s a main plot point in my latest manuscript) and I can see nothing but good things for wildlife when gas prices reach high levels.

      Some may argue that this will affect enforcement but the levels of enforcement are already ridiculously low. The prices will push the poachers out and back to the cities with fewer targets. Those that remain will not be able to spend what little cash they have on looking for things to shoot.

      The wolf will be in better shape when Johnny ATV can’t chase it for ten miles in the mountains before shooting it.

      I’m not asking anyone to raise the prices – that will happen on its own without our consent.

    • Ryan says:

      Lets see most guys who run the woods, live close to the woods. It would seem counter intutive to me as higher gas prices would reduce patrols by law enforcement and weekend visitors, all of which report wildlife crimes and prevent them from happening. When gas was 5.00 a gallon 2 years ago, you know what I did to save gas money. I bought an ATV and a dual sport motorcycyle as did most of my redneck huntin buddies… The only thing 10.00 a gallon gas will do is stop families/young people from trying to take vactions into the wild. Although it would be a business boom for you with the virtual wild tours you sell.

  2. Rusty says:

    Does anyone else agree that our policy towards wildlife is the exact same as our foreign policy? We punish the masses for the transgressions of a few. Just look at Iraq and Afghanistan.

  3. Angela says:

    hmmm, that’s an interesting take on it, Rusty.

    Some gems from the comments.

    “…They kill deer, elk, sheep, cows, dogs, horses and givin the opportunity, they will kill your kid’s too! Why save these killer’s with our dwindeling tax dollar’s? It’s like letting O.J date your daughter, then paying for dinner!”

    “Thinning out the two problem wolves will not only prevent them from killing again, it may teach the others a lesson.”

    “Sorry, but I don’t think Wolves will be any more missed than prehistoric mammals. Time to get rid of them.!!”

    “Wolves are killers period!! They do nothing else. Protecting them is stupid!!! Kill all wolves in Oregon..!!”

    Personally, I *do* miss prehistoric mammals, but I guess I may be in the minority. Does that mean we can’t bring camels and giant sloths and mini-pronghorns back to Oregon?

    • John d. says:

      Speaking of prehistoric mammals, the livestock industry pushed for the extermination of one of the few remaining ancient mammal species early last century. Sport hunters were so happy to oblige, I mean killing little carnivorous marsupial ‘tigers’ that look a bit like wolves, that’s like a wet dream!
      Please note my sarcasm.

    • Generally speaking, the livestock industry is not interested in any wild animal. Cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, hogs, and other domestic animals . . . that’s it.

      They do tolerate deer and elk if they are managed as livestock.

      This completely utilitarian mindset is why the great enemy of serious hunters, wildlife watchers, and those who love outdoor adventure need to keep this powerful industry in check. They love the outdoors in a way similar to the oil industry, coal industry, mining industry . . . you get the picture.

    • jon says:

      Angela, I do as well. To see a smilodon or giant face bear would be an amazing thing. I would be sure to keep my distance though. lol

    • jon says:

      I think you mean tasmanian tigers John. Over the years, there have been reported sightings of them. Maybe they aren’t extinct afterall. You just never know.

    • jon says:

      Angela, the funny thing is that when these articles go up online, the first people you see commenting on them are the wolf haters. It’s amazing, it’s like they purposely look for these articles to post their anti-wolf comments on. These people are sick and hateful at an animal just trying to survive. Talking about killing all of the wolves.

    • mikarooni says:

      jon, you know as well as anybody that not only do the right wing wolf haters “purposely look for… articles to post their anti-wolf comments on” but we have a bunch of them continuously haunting this site masquerading and constantly doing the endless good cop bad cop routine to spread disinformation, confusion and generally demoralize our side.

    • Layton says:


      “Angela, the funny thing is that when these articles go up online, the first people you see commenting on them are the wolf haters. It’s amazing”

      Yep, REALLY amazing would be if they beat you to them”


  4. WM says:

    Let’s see here. Oregonian editorial board says to follow the OR wolf management plan. I read relevant parts of the plan, and the processes that were envisioned – there is actually a fair amount of ambiguity in the words I read, but lots of verbage intended to address livestock owner concerns. It is there throughout the document. The editorial doesn’t say what part of the plan was not being followed – maybe its giving problem wolves more chances before lethal contol. Disconnect between affected livestock owners, planners, and enforcers.

    Is there a pattern here? NRM states and wolf advocates before federal judges can’t seem to agree on what plans say. The latest round. WA puts out a draft plan that is intended to get initial buy-in from livestock interests (we’ll take care of the problem wolves, don’t worry, and if you are a big landowner we will give you -if the legislature approves and funds the program – double the market value of your loss on confirmed kills and market on suspected kills.) Can’t wait until they have to interpret that one, with its nifty translocation features. MN who has the first plan, feels betrayed because of certain activities they legally committed to under state law AFTER delisting. Only problem is they can’t get their wolves delisted, so they sit there plan in hand waiting and waiting and waiting.

    It’s in the wolf management plan – don’t worry be happy. Then it comes time to interpret or “enforce” the plan.

  5. Rita K. Sharpe says:

    But, Layton,I only see you posting on these issues,99% of the time.

    • Layton says:

      Which issues are “those” Rita??

      If it’s wolf issues you are talking about you’re probably right, that’s what brought me to this blog initially – long story – and that’s pretty much what keeps me looking in now and then.

      I used to think that maybe I could make a difference and that some folks would listen to what I had to say. That didn’t happen and it really doesn’t look like it will – there isn’t much room for discussion anymore. Instead it’s just putting folks down that have a view which doesn’t hold wolves as sacred.

      BUT, I keep coming back to look in a bit, guess I’m to stubborn to give up hope.

  6. Mal Adapted says:

    I’m strongly in favor of letting predators return to their role as keystone predator in wildlands, and I don’t believe grey wolves present threat to me personally. I’d draw the line at giant short-faced bears, however.

    One imagines the first people in North America getting a glimpse of one of these and saying to each other “let’s kill as many of these bad boys as we can find, or we’ll never be safe in this land!”

    • Mal Adapted says:

      “letting predators return to their role as keystone predator.”

      Speaking from the Department of Redundancy Department…8^}.

  7. Rita K. Sharpe says:

    Thank you ,Layton, for answering my post.

  8. Bio Student says:

    Wow, I stumbled upon this site gathering information for my Biology term project on the Oregon Cascade Eco-region. I was attempting to answer the question: Which organisms live there, which are abundant, endangered, threatened, economically useful, or pests. Would you describe your eco-region as having high biodiversity or low?
    Interestingly enough, while I did not read through all of the numerous posts here, we have been taught , in BI 101, diversity is a good thing. We have looked at case studies where Coyotes ( another

    • Bio Student says:

      Add on to prior post – got a little happy with the submit button. First timer…
      Anyway, in case studies of Coyotes, absolute removal is bad for the overall ecosytem. It creates an unbalance and either you have an over population of some other pest, some other preditor fills the gap, and on and on…When the coyotes are reintorduced the balance restores. It baffles me we feel the need to intervene with what had been working for centuries. It makes no common sense – Am I alone here?


July 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey