To the Editor:
As The voice of the Chieftain noted (“California gets wolf experience,” Sept. 9), California is privileged to host a new wolf pack. Wolves have been instrumental in restoring biological diversity in the Northern Rocky Mountains, including increasing the number of song birds, pronghorns, lynxes and other species, while simultaneously improving the ecology of vital riparian systems.
Recently, researchers found that wolves in the Great Lakes region have the same trophic-cascading effects on their ecosystems. Wolves help scavengers like grizzly bears and bald eagles, and also help keep a check on smaller predators. Their left-over carrion affects soil nutrients, soil microbes and plant quality.
While providing those benefits in Idaho and Montana — states with more wolves than Oregon or California — wolves took less than one percent of livestock inventories. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data, more animals in ranches die from weather, disease, theft, poisoning and birthing problems than are killed by all the predators put together.
Ranchers can take commonsense, non-lethal precautions to reduce their losses, particularly when they are operating on public lands. And when a wolf does transgress against livestock, there are legal remedies allowed to address the problem.
California has acted responsibly by ensuring protection for gray wolves in their state and by convening a stakeholder working group to contribute to its wolf management plan. They are right to plan ahead to make these newly returning neighbors welcome.
Beckstead is Oregon state director at The Humane Society of the United States.