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Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Don't Blame the State for Wolf Problems

I look forward to wolves re-establishing themselves throughout Oregon. I take a keen interest in each new sighting, the expansion of their territory, and the environmental benefit they bring.

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I look forward to wolves re-establishing themselves throughout Oregon. I take a keen interest in each new sighting, the expansion of their territory, and the environmental benefit they bring. I also think you may have missed the boat giving the boot to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). The agency spent years crafting the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Representatives of all Oregon stakeholders helped draft that plan. Ranchers and county officials from northeastern Oregon were the only represented groups who opposed the final plan.

Ranchers opposed that plan with good reason, they were afraid for their livelihood. The killing of a single calf or lamb is an economic loss to them, that means they make less money and must spend more money and time changing the nature of their grazing operations. Having large mobile predators on the land with grazing animals has incredible environmental benefit, yet creates significant problems for ranchers. Ranchers are the one of the primary users of rangeland in the intermountain west, and the primary stewards of that land. If we don't like what they do with that land, we need to work with them to create a new use pattern - not shut them down.

Not all of us can work in a bike shop like me, or write editorials like you. Someone has to grow food, and someone has to raise cattle. All of those jobs have environmental benefits and drawbacks, and I'd argue that our "town" jobs create a more significant negative environmental impact than any rancher ever will. As such, I think it's important to keep ranching alive and work with ranchers to find realistic solutions to wolf predation. Individual wolves, like people, have personalities and behave in different ways. Killing a wolf that has habituated itself to eating lambs is a realistic solution - not a death sentence to all wolves.

ODFW is putting a lot of effort into finding the middle ground. They have a difficult job, ranchers on one side and environmentalists on the other. Putting them up as the bad guy is much too easy, and it creates a polarized debate where nothing gets done, and everyone is unhappy. I'd like to propose trusting that the ODFW is doing the best job possible with a very charged issue. I also think those of us who want wolves to come back, should support ranchers in finding solutions that can work for everyone, like Keystone Conservation has done with its Range Riders program in the Rocky Mountains.

Thanks,

- J. Johansen, Bend

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