Friday, March 20, 2015

The debate continues--#wolves vs blood thirsty ranchers

Action on wolves can’t wait until 2017, senator says

Don JenkinsCapital Press
Don Jenkins/Capital Press
Okanogan County rancher Scott Vejraska suspects wolves are finding his grazing cattle. He testified March 19 in front of a state Senate committee in Olympia.

OLYMPIA — A Senate hearing Thursday on a bill that might change Washington wolf policy in two years turned to a more immediate issue — the upcoming grazing season. Sen. Brian Dansel pressed the state’s wolf policy coordinator, Dave Ware, on whether the Department of Fish and Wildlife was content to wait until 2017 to do more to protect livestock from wolves. “Are we good to wait two years to do anything?” asked Dansel, a Republican who represents northeast Washington. “No, not at all,” Ware said.

The House and Senate have both voted to reconsider the state’s wolf recovery plan, but the Fish and Wildlife Commission would have until June 30, 2017, to make changes. At a hearing of the Natural Resources and Parks Committee, Dansel said he’s concerned that wolves will inflict heavy financial losses on ranchers in his corner of the state unless the state does more on the “lethal deterrence side.”
Dansel called reopening the wolf plan a “great bill,” but also said he was worried the legislation would disarm attempts to manage wolves more effectively now. “My concern is we get this and then everybody goes, ‘OK, we’re done with wolves. We have a wolf bill. It’s workable. Everything’s great.’ I don’t think on the ground that’s going to be the case,” Dansel said.

Ware said WDFW has been working with producers on “localized deterrence plans” to more effectively protect livestock. “We’re trying to get these deterrence plans up and running before the grazing season starts,” he said. In an interview, Ware said WDFW has tried to learn from past predations. The agency has talked with ranchers over the winter informally about how to prevent wolves from ever getting the taste for their livestock.

The number of wolves and their range are growing, however, he said. “Can we expect additional depredations? Absolutely,” he said. Okanogan County rancher Scott Vejraska, who testified in support of reopening the wolf plan, said he sent out 700 cows to graze and eight didn’t come back, an unusually high number. He suspects wolves. He said it’s unrealistic to think his cows can be guarded as they spend months grazing on 300,000 acres. “You turn the cows out and hope for the best,” he said.

The Senate and House have separate but similar wolf bills. House Bill 2107 passed the House unanimously and appears the most likely measure to reach the governor’s desk. The bill has the endorsement of groups as diverse as the Washington Cattlemen’s Association and Humane Society of the United States. “This bill is rooted in compromise,” the Humane Society’s state director, Dan Paul, said.

The push to rethink the wolf plan comes as wolves have become more numerous in northeast Washington, causing losses for ranchers. Meanwhile, the state has not made much measurable progress in meeting goals to remove wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

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And now for a rebuttal... 


Steve Jurvetson / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Dear Mr. Wolf-Killing Rancher:

By Linda Camac
Instead of declaring war on wolves try to think like the wolf.

He is born to survive in the wild better than any human could, but he does not have any understanding of the things you value — the things that have made you view him as an enemy. Things like "ownership," "livestock loss," "profit," or "trespassing."

When the wolf sees the crowds of your cattle just standing there, his instinct to eat kicks in; when you bring your cattle to graze in the wilderness, on public lands, the wolf sees "delivery service."

Respect that the wolf has the right to feed himself and his pack. He cannot and will not differentiate between your cattle and his natural prey, the prairie buffalo. Respect that he, like all apex predators, were born to keep nature in balance — managing themselves for hundreds of thousands of years without ever depleting prey herds. Respect that the wolf has no perception that you own a cow, a lamb or a tree.

You can choose, Mr. Rancher, to be a better neighbor to the wildlife that live beside you — you can choose compassion and non-lethal methods of watching over your flock. For one, Anatolian guard dogs have successfully protected domesticated livestock for over 6,000 years. Dogs combined with good fencing is all that is needed.

No, the father of all dogs and the symbol of the free wilderness cannot think like you do. But you can think like the wolf. 
 
Linda Camac

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