December 30, 2011
BROOKS, Calif. -- California ranchers reacted warily Friday to reports that a wolf has entered the state for the first time in decades."That's a long ways from here, and it's just one, but it's going to change everything," said Dan Gallardo, a third-generation cattle rancher in Yolo County's Capay Valley.
Gallardo said he has closely been following reports that a lone gray wolf has crossed the border from Oregon."People will think it's great, and they'll go out and try to listen to them. Then, they'll get back in their Volvos and drive back to their condominiums and leave us to deal with it," said Gallardo.Mark Stopher of the California Department of Fish and Game said Friday that the wolf, a 2-and-a-half-year-old male known as "OR7," was last confirmed in eastern Siskiyou County.
Stopher said a GPS tracking-device showed the wolf had moved about 10 to 20 miles southeast from its previous position on Thursday."The news of a wolf entering California from Oregon is one that has caught the attention of cattle producers statewide," wrote Stevie Ipsen of the California Cattlemen's Association in a statement to KCRA 3.Ipsen said that since the wolf's reintroduction in the mid-1990s, ranchers across the west have been "plagued" by them.California is the nation's third-largest largest producer of livestock, with with more than 5.1 million head of cattle.
According to a document by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the industry generated about $9.8 billion in 2010.For years, a private, nonprofit group known as Defenders of Wildlife compensated ranchers who lost livestock because of wolf attacks. In 2010, the federal government assumed responsibility for the compensation program and awarded $1 million to 10 states who administer it. California is not one of them.Stopher said a compensation program was not immediately necessary, because, he said, wolves usually hunt in packs and an individual is not a threat to a livestock.
However, Stopher said such a program might become necessary if the wolf population becomes established in California.Sam Blake, a rescuer of wolf-dog hybrids, said he agreed that OR7 is not a threat to livestock. He said the wolf is probably surviving on roadkill."There's a way to deal with wolves around livestock. It's been proven. They just don't want to take the time or the money to implement those procedures," said Blake.Blake said his greatest concern is for the animal itself, which he feared would likely be shot and killed, despite its federally protected status.