Wolf committee compensates ranchers for
Herald and News by Lee Juillerat
Compensation payments were made
for four cattle killed and one injured by wolves during
Monday’s meeting of the Klamath County Wolf Depredation
DeTar Livestock of Dixon,
Calif., which grazes cattle on the Nicholson Ranch near Fort
Klamath, will receive $3,662.95 for four cattle that were
killed earlier this month by wolves. The payments —
$1,212.30, $792, $764.40 and $893.25 — are based on recent
cattle sales. DeTar runs cattle on Wood River Valley lease
lands owned by Bill Nicholson and managed by Butch Wampler.
In addition, the committee
approved a $407 payment to Dave Wirth, who owns a ranch in
the Pine Grove area, for a confirmed February wolf attack
that injured a heifer .
A request for payments will be
submitted to the Oregon Department of Agriculture in January
with payments expected in February. The compensation does
not include veterinary bills or other costs.
During discussion, Nicholson
emphasized the payments do not consider weight losses caused
by stress among cattle when they are threatened by wolves.
Jason Chapman, a Poe Valley rancher and wolf committee
member, echoed Nicholson’s concerns but said there is no way
to quantify the impacts of stress.
compensation request will be kept open in case of a future
incident. Nicholson said the remaining cattle are scheduled
to be shipped out Wednesday, although other Wood River
Valley ranchers don’t plan to move cattle to winter
pastures, mostly in northern California, until late
The payments were approved
after the committee heard updates on wolves in the Klamath
Basin and discussions on a range of topics.
Committee member Tom Mallams, a
Klamath County Commissioner, complimented efforts by Klamath
Falls-based offices the Oregon Department of Fish and
Wildlife and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, but
complained that wolf enforcement regulations frequently
change, largely because of legal threats by pro-wolf groups.
Wolves in western Oregon are on
the federally endangered species list while wolves east of
Highway 395 are under Oregon’s less restrictive wolf
Laurie Sada, the Service’s
Klamath Falls office supervisor, said the agency has
proposed legislation to delist wolves for several years but
said no action has been taken by Congress. She said the
agency “feels wolves have recovered and should be delisted”
and disagrees with some pro-wolf supporters. “There’s a lot
of folks who say any grazing should stop if wolves are
present. No,” she insisted.
Sada and John Muir, assistant
wildlife biologist for the state’s Klamath district office,
disagreed with Mallams, who cited wolf-caused deaths in
Canada and Alaska in 2005 and 2010 and said wolves pose a
threat to humans. No deaths have been reported in the lower
“This is not just a livestock
issue. This is a human issue,” Mallams said, questioning why
alerts are made about, for example, possible toxic algae in
lakes, but not about wolves.
“I’m not interested in playing
up the Little Red Riding Hood scenario,” Muir responded.
Muir also said wolves are
opportunists, noting, “There’s no evidence wolves get a
taste for beef ... If the opportunity is there, they’re
teach them (young wolves) how to survive.”
Mark Coats, a member of Working
Circle, a Siskiyou County group formed to create strategies
to prevent wolf depredations, discussed efforts to
discourage wolf-livestock interactions. He said the group
wants to expand to Southern Oregon and make control
“expenses more tolerable.” He said the presence of humans,
called hazing, has proven the most effective method of
discouraging wolf attacks.
Coats said no California wolves
have radio collars used for tracking but said their
movements have been observed by trail cameras and studying
tracks and scat. By forecasting wolf movements, ranchers can
take steps to reduce potential attacks.
He said information on
California wolves is lacking because the state has no wolf
depredation compensation program, which he believes
discourages ranchers from reporting livestock kills.
Muir said efforts to trap and
collar wolves, especially members of the Rogue Pack,
believed responsible for the four recent Wood River Valley
kills, have been unsuccessful. Sada said there is no chance
all wolves will ever be collared, cautioning, “The reality
is you’re not going to know where these animals are.”
The committee will meet in
January to discuss its 2017 budget request and consider
methods to discourage wolf attacks, including possible
participation in the Working Circle. Last year the Klamath
County requested $15,000 for preventative measures and
received about $8,000.
The county has received $20,000
Fish and Wildlife Service grant to be used over a four-year
period for prevention efforts and has $5,000 in state funds
that must be used in the next three months for deterrent
procedures, such as range riders, special fencing, guard
dogs, burying or disposing of livestock carcasses, firing
cracker shells and strobe lights.
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