Friday, January 22, 2016

Siskiyou County residents express worry over wolves

Credit: Damon Arthur/Record Searchlight
During a meeting on the Draft Gray Wolf Conservation Plan in Yreka on Thursday night, Liz Bowen of Callahan told California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff that she was concerned about having wolves living in Siskiyou County.
 YREKA — Some 300 people showed up at a hearing in Yreka on Thursday night to comment on the state’s draft Gray Wolf Conservation Plan. Most of those who spoke represented ranching and hunting groups from Siskiyou County who were concerned about the wolves’ return to California. “I don’t want a wolf kill on my place,” said Ryan Walker, a Siskiyou County rancher, referring to wolves killing cattle. “I need to know where the wolves are.”The conservation plan attempts to manage the growing number of wolves that have showed up in the state during the past year.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife plan analyzes where wolves are likely to live in the state, what they will prey on, how they will affect livestock ranchers and humans. The state is also holding conservation plan meetings in Sacramento and Long Beach.
This past summer, fish and wildlife biologists documented the state’s first pack in more than 80 years. DNA analysis of the wolves’s droppings indicate they came from the Imnaha pack in northeast Oregon.
Many of the ranchers who spoke Thursday urged the state to put radio collars on the wolves so they can take steps to protect their cattle.

Patrick Griffin, a wolf consultant for Siskiyou County, said after a calf was killed, ranchers wanted to know where the wolves were so they could prevent another death. “After the incident on the east side of the county, it would have been nice to know where the wolves have gone,” Griffin said.
The DFW’s Eric Loft told the crowd that getting the wolves collared is a high priority. However, state officials need to locate the wolves before they can collar them. “We’ve lost track of the Shasta Pack. We don’t know where they are,” said Karen Kovacs, a program manager for the department.
Fish and wildlife officials said wolves probably killed a calf in Siskiyou County in November.

Kovacs urged those in the audience to notify the department when they see a wolf or any evidence of one.
Mark Baird, a leader in the State of Jefferson movement, said he suspects the wolves are being trucked into the state, and he and others are looking for evidence.
But Loft denied that and said he, too, would like to see evidence of anyone in the fish and wildlife department trucking in wolves.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said he was concerned about wolves harming people, as well as the economic impact wolves will have on ranchers. “I’m very, very concerned, and so are my fellow sheriffs, both inside and outside California,” Lopey said.
Rich Klug, with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said he was concerned about how wolves would affect elk herds. He said there are only about 7,000 elk in Northern California. If wolf packs grow too numerous, they could greatly reduce the numbers of elk, which are wolves’ primary source of food, he said.

About a half-dozen people also spoke in favor of wolves. Karin Vardaman of the California Wolf Center said she was eager to work with ranchers and state officials to prevent cattle deaths.
“We have no desire to see cattle die,” Vardaman said.
“I’m very, very concerned, and so are my fellow sheriff’s, both inside and outside California,” Lopey said.