Oregon’s in the national spotlight for it’s no-kill ban on wolves that has spurred a rise in non-lethal options for dealing with potential conflicts and yielded unexpected results.
Interestingly enough, while wolf numbers have gone up from 29 in 2011 to 46 in 2012, livestock kills have not.
Oregon has had a ban on killing wolves for a little over a year now, which is the result of a lawsuit filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild, after the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced plans to kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack. The groups argued that killing wolves to protect livestock went against the state’s Endangered Species Act.
A compromise to protect both wolves and livestock was reached after the Court of Appeals got involved and while ranchers are allowed to shoot wolves who are caught in the act of killing livestock, they’ve had to start looking to alternative methods to deter them.
“Once the easy option of killing wolves is taken off the table, we’ve seen reluctant but responsible ranchers stepping up,” Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild told the AP. “Conflict is going down. And wolf recovery has got back on track.”
Some livestock losses continue as a result of wolves, but fewer than half of the investigations conducted by the ODFW into cause of death have found that wolves were actually responsible for suspected kills.
Ranchers are now monitoring their herds, putting bells on their cows, using radio-activated guard boxes that emit loud sounds when collared wolves come within their range, and fladry – electrified fencing with flags – in addition to cleaning up carcasses that would otherwise lure wolves to the area. They’re also notified by ODFW when collared wolves are in their range, reports to the AP.
Wolf advocates are now hopeful that the actions being taken in Oregon can serve as a model for other states. Since wolves lost their federal protection, over 1000 of them have been senselessly slaughtered in last year’s witch hunt, including radio collared wolves.
Meanwhile, in an effort led by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), 52 members of Congress have sent a letter to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging the agency not to remove federal protections for wolves across most of the lower 48 United States.
“The job of wolf recovery is far from over and the members of Congress who have written to the Service are asking that science, not politics, guide federal wolf management,” said Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands. “Maintaining federal protections is critical in allowing wolves to assume their valuable ecological role across the American landscape.”
A wolf pup from Oregon’s Snake River pack inspires a wolf symphony:
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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