Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oregon's lone wolf pack threatened

Journey, an intrepid gray wolf from Oregon's lone wolf pack, made history last year when he traveled more than 1000 miles to become the first wolf in California in nearly a century.

Now Journey's family, the Imnaha pack, is under attack again at home, this time by the Oregon Cattleman's Association, which is pushing a law that would allow for the annihilation of the pack.

Here's why:
A pack of wolves roaming grasslands in Eastern Oregon killed another cow over the weekend.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said a yearling heifer was found dead on a ranch east of Joseph in Wallowa County. ODFW officials said the rancher had coraled his 700 cattle Sunday night in a pasture near his home and that the wolves broke in and chased them out, killing a heifer. The wolves returned the next night to the same ranch but no cows were killed.

Russ Morgan, ODFE’s wolf coordinator, said the Imnaha pack has killed 19 cows since spring 2010. Usually wolves go after calves, which are the easiest prey, but the past three cows killed were adults or adult-sized, Morgan said.

“It’s worrying for livestock producers,” he said. “It’s an alarming trend.”

The agency would like to kill two wolves in the pack of at least five animals but a court-ordered stay halted that plan Oct. 5. Wildlife advocates, who took the agency to court, want the state to focus more preserving gray wolves which are protected in Oregon as an endangered species.

Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild said that the number of livestock killed by gray wolves is miniscule compared with the numbers that die being born, in severe weather or from disease. Ranchers also lose cows to thieves.

The Imnaha pack is the first wolf pack in Oregon in more than 60 years. But instead of protecting and celebrating the return of the species, special interests in Oregon are working to eliminate wolves for fear of livestock depredation.

Imnaha Pack alpha male (ODFW)

The wolf pack was the first to establish and produce pups in the state in more than 60 years. While measures should be taken to prevent depredation of livestock, there are better ways to keep cattle safe than killing the family of Journey, who captured the nation's imagination with its thousand-mile expedition to become the first wolf in California in nearly a century.

Last fall, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies won an emergency stay of execution from the Oregon Court of Appeals that stopped the state from killing two wolves in the pack -- a stay that remains in place while the Cattlemen's Association pushes this appalling bill.

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