Guest Opinion

Oct 5, 2012
by WLJ

Wolf needs delisting to be managed properly

The thinning of the gray wolf “Wedge” pack in northeastern Washington by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WD- FW) didn’t need to occur if the animal had been properly managed from the beginning, according to the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA).

“The removal of six members of the Wedge pack was caused by improper management of the wolf in our region and could have been prevented,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “If Fish and Wildlife had addressed the situation sooner instead of letting the whole pack turn into cattle killers, we would be looking at a different situation today.”

WDFW removed six wolves from the Wedge pack last week in response to persistent attacks on cattle at the Diamond M Ranch in Stevens County. The attacks started in June, resulting in 10 dead calves and eight injured.

SCCA is calling for the delisting of the gray wolf as an endangered species in the eastern Washington region so more practical steps can be taken the next time there is a wolf conflict.

“We know another incident is coming due to the saturation of wolves in our area, the number of people who own and care for livestock, and the limited feed available to the wolf,” said Nielsen. “If the wolf is delisted as an endangered species in our area, more feasible options would be available when dealing with problem wolves.”

Nielsen notes that WDFW seems to be operating in a myopic perception of wolves as “endangered” and ignores the substantial wolf numbers in Canada and other western states. Federal estimates note the wolf population in Canada is as high as 50,000 to 60,000 wolves. Idaho estimated 746 wolves in their state and allows for an open hunting season in the panhandle region bordering Washington. Montana and Wyoming also have open hunting seasons for the wolf.

“We are willing to coexist with the wolf, but we need the Fish and Wildlife Commission to recognize that the best way to handle wolf-livestock conflicts is to give the rancher the ability to address the wolf as we do with other predators,” said Nielsen.

For more information, visit the SCCA blogsite: www.stevenscountycattle, visit their Facebook page, or subscribe to them on Twitter. — Stevens County Cattlemens Association