County commissioner offers minority wolf report

Ben Boswell

Wallowa County Commissioner Ben Boswell says the majority is wrong when it comes to grey wolves.

On Sept. 9 the 14-person Wolf Advisory Committee to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission submitted its majority and minority recommendations on how to handle grey wolves that might possibly migrate to Oregon from other states. Those recommendations will be considered and updated by the OFWC, then be the subject of a series of public informational meetings, including one Oct. 26 in Enterprise. The OFWC is expected to have its wolf policy in place by Jan. 7, 2005.

Boswell has been a member of the Wolf Advisory Committee since it was formed one year ago and has gone on record in opposition to the committee's majority opinion. On Sept. 7 he released a four-page minority report that expressed the view that wolves should not be allowed in Oregon. "I propose that wolves be kept from Oregon by whatever means are necessary," he said. He later stated, "I believe that because the minimum conflict threshold is zero, the plan should seek to prevent conflict and this can be done only by preventing wolves."

Until 2002 the state, which to date has no conformed sightings of wolves, had a policy that any wolves would be captured and returned to another state. Then Attorney General Hardy Myers ruled that because of the endangered species act that they could not be trapped and removed.

The recommendation of the Wolf Advisory Committee would be for the OFWC, with the use of radio collars, to keep a count of wolves in the state, triggering a series of legal responses according to the number of breeding pairs in Oregon. From zero to four breeding pairs would be allowed and only wildlife agents would be authorized to kill wolves that kill livestock.

At a level of four to six breeding pairs, livestock owners would have the chance to get a permit to shoot a wolf on private property. More than seven breeding pairs and thought would be given on how to control the wolf population, including the possibility of a hunting season.

Boswell argues that wolves are a threat to wildlife and livestock. In his minority report he wrote, "The rule of wolf behavior seems to be that there is no rule. Plans to prevent bad behavior by wolves by relying on their behavioral tendencies are doomed to failure in the long run."

"I am opposed to translocation or relocation of any kind," the county commissioner in his report, adding that the relocation of problem wolves rarely works and that such is against "the Commission's guiding principle favoring natural dispersal."

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