House wolf debate features OR-7, WSU, ‘idiots."
Northwest views figured in the U.S. House debate on whether to
deny gray wolves federal protection
Don Jenkins, Capital Press 11/20/18
The U.S. House debate Nov. 16 on de-listing gray wolves in the
lower 48 was tinged with Northwest references to OR-7,
Washington ranchers and the thought of turning lose apex
predators in Portland.
A Virginia lawmaker cited a Washington State University
scientist’s assertion that shooting wolves increases attacks on
livestock. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said wolves balance
ecosystems and noted the danger suburban motorists face of
crashing into deer. Another Oregon congressman, Peter DeFazio,
said he wished his southwestern Oregon district had more wolves
and dismissed de-listing as idiocy.
The House could have used the hour set aside for the debate on
wolves to work on education policy, the budget or a farm bill,
said DeFazio, D-Springfield. “But, no, we are here on a talking
point for a few idiots,” he said.
The House, still controlled by Republicans for a few more weeks,
voted 196-180 to pass H.R. 6784. The measure would strip wolves
of federal protection in California, and the western two-thirds
of Oregon and Washington. Wolves already have been de-listed in
Idaho and the eastern one-third of Oregon and Washington.
DeFazio was also dismissive of the bill’s chances of becoming
law. “By the way, it’s going nowhere in the Senate,” the veteran
Washington Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers said ranchers in
her state have been affected by wolves for many years.
“Each year, we are losing hundreds of livestock to wolves and
costing our economy millions of dollars,” she said.
“In Eastern Washington, and specifically in northeastern
Washington, predation on calves has become common.”
Rep. Don Beyer, whose Virginia district borders Washington,
D.C., said he would “love to see the gray wolves in Virginia
“The war on wolves is based, in part, on a myth that wolves are
dangerous to humans and livestock,” he said. “Ironically,
research at Washington State University have found that killing
wolves leads to an increase in livestock losses caused by
In 2014, then-WSU wolf scientist Rob Wielgus presented a study
maintaining that shooting wolves broke up packs, encouraged
breeding and led to more attacks on livestock. University of
Washington researchers looked at the same data, came to the
opposite conclusion and criticized Wielgus’ statistical
Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, one of nine Democrats who voted
for the bill, said his district has more wolves than any other
in the U.S. “So I say to all you folks who think this is such a
great idea: We have a lot of extra wolves. We will lend them to
your district,” he said.
Blumenauer, D-Portland, called denying wolves federal protection
“inappropriate’ and talked about the “benefits of having apex
predators to be able to restore ecological balance.”
“I heard the notion of, ‘Well, how would you feel if you were
reintroducing wolves in metropolitan areas?’ And I just thought
for a moment of listening in the past to people who are overrun
with deer in Virginia suburbs, in Maryland suburbs. It is not
just messing up their yards; it is killing people. We have
several hundred people a year who are killed in collisions with
deer,” he said.
A Blumenauer spokesman said in an email the congressman was not
suggesting that wolves be released in suburbs. “He was
suggesting that reintroducing wolves in Yellowstone and other
areas has been shown to benefit ecosystems in multiple ways.
Protecting this iconic species across its range allows us the
chance to help restore a little bit to the natural world that
humans have so fundamentally altered,” the spokesman stated.
DeFazio told the House about the wolf OR-7’s journey from Oregon
to California. “He went to California looking for a mate. He
finally found one, and those were his first progeny,” DeFazio
said. “Guess what? We are not having catastrophic predation on
cattle in southern Oregon. We could accommodate more wolves.”
Arkansas Republican Bruce Westerman said he did not think
supporting the bill made anyone an idiot.
“I am glad that the gentleman from Oregon is so passionate about
wolves, and this bill would be fantastic for him and his state,”
Westerman said. “It would allow their natural resources folks to
manage their wolves. They could release some in Portland.”
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