Winter Time and Wolves

With the winter months upon us, the increase of wolf attacks are likely. Here are the facts, choose to be educated!

Information compiled by Lacey Moore.

The story of wolves in Oregon starts in 2005, when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. (1) In the spring and summer of 2011, the balancing act of introducing wolves into the wilderness areas of Oregon, while preserving the lives of locally owned cattle has become particularly volatile. In the last year and a half, total of 14 livestock animals have been confirmed killed by wolves of the Imnaha pack alone.(2)

The stakeholders in this particular issue have common ground, but are still separated on several priorities.

  • It is understood that there is a need to conservatively maintain and repair the natural status of animals and environment in the Western United States. Especially by and for business men and women who depend on the land for agricultural success.
  • Property lawfully purchased, owned and maintained by individuals which is stripped from their ownership resulting from a government decision, should be considered ‘takings’.
  • The government is a body with limited funding and manpower, and holds a responsibility to every interested party of its constituency.

Currently, there are three identified wolf packs in Oregon:

The Imnaha Pack 
The Wenaha Pack
The Walla Walla Pack

According to ODFW, neither the Wenaha nor the Walla Walla packs have confirmed kills of livestock in Oregon. The wolves which reside in Oregon are broadly categorized as being part of the Northern Rocky Mountain distinction; a Federal categorization. Wolves native to the Canadian and northern U.S. Rockies, interior British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and nearly all of Alaska are closely related; belonging to the single subspecies Canis lupus occidental. Current measurements of harvested wolves in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana are genetically and phenotypically indiscernible from wolves recorded in these areas in the late 1800s.(3)

The Defenders of Wildlife is a national non-profit which works to restore native wildlife, solve disputes and educate the public on wildlife conservation. Since 1987, the DOW have compensated ranchers who have been affected by (confirmed) wolf predation in the Western US with funds from private donations.(4)  There has been a clear discord between the actual value of the livestock, and the amount which ranchers have been compensated for.

The Oregon Livestock Compensation and Wolf Coexistence bill (Oregon House Bill 3560) will take effect in 2012, and elects each county to establish a committee comprised of one county commissioner, two members who own or manage livestock, two members who support wolf conservation/coexistence with wolves and two local business persons. This committee serves as a device to offer financial assistance for preventative wolf measures and to accurately to appraise the value of livestock which has been confirmed killed by wolves.(5)

Based on the current endangered status of wolves in the Oregon Endangered species act, there continues to be no lethal means for ranchers to defend livestock or domestic pets on the scene of a wolf interaction (during a predation).(3) (5)


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