The Chieftain’s story about the year’s first livestock predation by the Harl Butte pack last week does a disservice to its readers. There is more than just one voice, and that inimical to wolves, in Wallowa County.
Commissioner Todd Nash, known for his uncompromising opposition to wolves anywhere in cow country, never ceases calling for slaughtering wolves for even a small number of stock predations.
He says the state needs to do its part (kill wolves) if we’re going to achieve coexistence with wolves and ranchers.
He is implying that Oregon hasn’t made huge efforts to accommodate the livestock industry by providing full compensation for dead or injured stock, providing generous funding for the use of nonlethal deterrents and compensating for cattle missing at the fall round-up. Commissioner Nash benefits from all these programs. All at tax-payer expense.
When wolves and cattle mix on public lands, there will be some stock predation, especially of undersized, sick or injured stock, and an ODFW investigation will seldom discover whether an animal was sick or injured before being attacked.
The 225-pound two-month old calf taken by the Harl Butte pack was a very tempting target, not much bigger than a wolf. A basic management practice is to calve in January and February so calves are large when released into wolf territory on public land, something this rancher didn’t do.
Those ranchers who like Nash are incessantly calling for the extermination of wolves should themselves do their part and actually make a serious effort to adapt their management practices to wolf presence. Ranchers in Oregon and the West are doing this successfully.
Oregonians overwhelmingly support wolves and are paying to help the livestock industry cope. Nash and his friends should adjust to this reality and stop viewing their fellow citizens and state with contempt.