Cattlemen look for fair solution in wolf debate

Written by Observer editorial reports April 08, 2011 03:06 pm
To expect Oregon’s cattlemen and wolves to live in harmony would be like setting Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi, who used fasting as a political weapon, and television food personality Paula Dean up on a date and expecting fireworks. Ain’t gonna happen. But a majority of Oregon cattlemen are trying to work within a system that is providing for wolf recovery. They are just looking for a fair playing field. With that in mind, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association went to Salem last week to ask the Legislature to consider proposals that would help ensure their livelihood — or “a fair solution,’’ as Cattlemen’s President Bill Hoyt called it in a recent letter to the
editor.

He acknowledged that there are elements that want a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to wolves in Oregon, as we’ve seen with those who favor and advocate complete annihilation of wolves. But the OCA recognizes that “the predominance of Oregon society does not agree with this approach.’’ The cattlemen, through their proposals, are seeking a “calm and lawful resolution to an otherwise emotionally charged issue,’’ Hoyt wrote.

A majority of people in Oregon support the re-estalishment of the gray wolf in our state. But Oregon also wants tasty red meat in its diet. This leaves the state with creating a delicate balancing act between
conflicting uses.

The Legislature needs to take a serious look at the cattlemen’s proposals, from ensuring a compensation plan to allowing ranchers to shoot wolves they see attacking livestock. Under the current Oregon Wolf Plan, the killing of rogue wolves is up to state and
federal livestock agents.

The cattlemen’s proposals aren’t viewed favorably by those who want wolves re-established in Oregon, including The Oregonian’s editorial board, though it does support a compensation plan. “What isn’t constructive,’’ The Oregonian said in a recent editorial, “is the pursuit of legislation that exaggerates the threat of returning wolves and ignores both the will of the majority of Oregonians and the public process that has led to the state plan.’’ Exaggerates? Such a view is well and good when your livelihood isn’t impacted, but for ranchers, it is. They see the wolf population growing rather quickly, and while they have shown a willingness to work with the state and feds on ways to scare off wolves, they know these methods aren’t 100 percent.
 
When Defenders of Wildlife stops its own program of paying Oregon ranchers for confirmed wolf depredation Sept. 1, the state must step in and fill the void. Legislators need to take action.