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Meddlesome

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Mar 17, 2017

A gray wolf.
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Wolves are back in the news, and this time it’s California. Imagine that. A couple weeks ago the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed a suit against the California Fish and Wildlife Commission, claiming that the wolves are ineligible for state protection because the replacement wolves are not indigenous to California, but a subspecies, which shouldn’t be protected under California’s Endangered Species Act. The suit was filed on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Lead attorney Damien Schiff for PLF said, “The listing is destructive as a matter of public policy. … It creates dangers for Northern California ranchers, farmers, and their local economies. If grey wolves begin to establish themselves after a long absence from California, regulators should be working with landowners on balanced policies that can protect sheep, cattle, and people with minimal harm to wolves. He noted that grey wolves were already protected as a non-game mammal, an arrangement that allowed flexible control. In contrast the “endangered listing makes it next to impossible for landowners to get permits to even to physically remove a wolf that is threatening their animals. Even state officials would run into red tape if they were to try to capture or kill a wolf.”

I get the part that California doesn’t have any wolves and the other states do. I’m sure that Californians always want something they don’t have; they’re feeling left out. Just about every state on the West Coast has restored wolf populations and they have caused nothing but problems for stock growers.

Our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), along with several other environmental groups, filed a motion to intervene in the suit. In their press release, the CBD’s West Coast wolf organizer, Amaroq Weiss, said “We’re intervening to defend the interest of the vast majority of Californians who value wolves and want them to recover.”

It’s easy to say you want them to recover when they don’t live in your backyard or threaten your business interests. They all think they want them; just not in their backyard. This whole episode seemed to start several years ago when a collared lone wolf, OR-7, actually did wander into California from Oregon.

The wolves that were reintroduced in the West were from a Canadian species that was much larger than the species we had in the U.S. back in the day. They were eradicated because of the simple human and livestock safety issue. I am still waiting for the day we hear the story about some young child getting hauled off the porch by a wolf. It will happen someday.

Every state that has wolves has worked hard to monitor them. States come up with their own management plans to keep the population in check.

This will be a never-ending endeavor. It’s like clearing mesquite off a West Texas ranch; it will never end. The wolf population is growing fast and they are showing up in new territory every day, costing stock growers thousands of dollars in lost livestock. Some stock growers are paid restitution for their losses, but proving a wolf kill and getting a check is a difficult task.

It’s kind of amusing to read the CBD’s comment citing University of California, Los Angeles biologist Dr. Bob Wayne as saying that “the three currently recognized subspecies of wolves occurred in California. The fact that wolves were only intermittently present actually highlights the need for their protection, and the California Endangered Species Act is rightly focused on the status of the species within California, not other states.”

When it came to sage-grouse, there seemed to be a big difference between subspecies. The Gunnison sage-grouse is listed on the federal endangered species list as threatened, while the greater sagegrouse is not listed, for example.

Californians will certainly get their share of wolves regardless of which subspecies it is; these beasts are migrating all over the West. If we’ve gotten by the last 100 years without wolves, there really isn’t good reason to bring them back. It’s just because these do-gooders want them. They’ll more than likely never see one in the wild. But these meddlesome environmental groups don’t seem to care about the cost of these vicious beasts on the rest of society. — PETE CROW

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