Saturday, October 29, 2016

Consider these points about what wolves do

Consider these points about what wolves do Regarding Lee Juillerat’s wolf depredation article: I lived in the Klamath Basin until 2015, still have property there, and know local ranchers, many who feel wolves cause unreasonable concerns and costs for those raising livestock. The losses appear to be entirely on the ranching side even though urbanites continue to eat beef. Also, most wolf supporters never see a wild wolf and don’t live in wolf-inhabited areas. However, there is another story here.

First a few facts:

1. At last count, Oregon has over 1 million cattle and about 55,000 die of weather, disease, and domestic dogs before slaughter. During 2016, cattle loss by wolves is less than three hundredths of one percent (.03 percent) compared to loss from other factors. Compensation for cattle is the full market value determined by local ranchers.

2. Ranchers are compensated for missing livestock above historic norms, a number also established by ranchers.

3. Ranchers using public rangeland pay a fraction of the private land cost (1/10th or less). The majority of Oregonians support wolves on public lands and expect ranchers to respect the right for wolves to exist there.

4. Wolves kill by biting their prey and will leave bite marks, just as shooting leaves bullet marks. They kill for food, not out of cruelty. Ranched cattle are not in a sanctuary and are slaughtered for human food.

But still, why should wolves exist if they complicate ranching? Many studies demonstrate that wolves fill an essential niche in the natural system (‘trophic cascades’) that help fish, animals, plants and water quality. Wolf populations are important to most people, including scientists and many Klamath Basin residents who live there for the wildlife. To discuss and act on these contentious issues rationally, we should resist loaded language and knee-jerk reactions; instead, we need calm, considered words and action in accord with current regulations.

Ali Litts 


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