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Official invited testimony to the House Nat'l Resources Committee for the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, OCA, from Sharon Beck February 7, 2005

Chair Smith, members of the committee:

Several years ago the OCA filed a petition to have the FW Commission remove the wolf from the Oregon endangered species list based on the fact that the wolf native to Oregon is extinct. Environmental groups immediately filed a petition requesting the Commission to write survival guidelines in preparation for writing a plan to conserve wolves. The Commission denied both petitions, ours because we didnít prove scientifically that the non existent wolf didnít need conservation and theirs because the wolf was grandfathered onto the list prior to the time that a conservation plan was required.

Very soon the ODFW and the Commission started the process leading to the adoption of a conservation and management plan. Round one goes to the environmentalists.

By the time the Commissionís Wolf Advisory Committee started to meet the USFWS had down listed the wolf to threatened loosening up the options for ranchers suffering livestock losses. They could kill wolves in the unlikely event that they were caught in the act of attacking with intent to kill livestock. A dozen and a half environmentalist/animal rights groups filed a suit to overturn down listing. Representatives of two of the plaintiffs groups were appointed to the WAC to assist in developing a plan.

Oregon Cattlemenís Association expressed a stance of zero tolerance for wolves; but wanted a representative on the committee to try to influence a positive outcome for any plan that might be adopted given that the Commission directed one to be written even though there is no legal requirement to do so.

Early on in the planning process on behalf of the livestock industries that I represented I submitted to the plan authors, department staff, and the WAC a list of category A issues that we believed were a minimum needed to be provided for in a plan. Those are listed in the minority report that you have been provided.

Some would require legislative action:

That does fully and fairly compensates for depredation of livestock as defined in the model that I wrote for consideration by the WAC

That provides the tools and the latitude to aggressively mitigate livestock-wolf conflict.

Some could be made a part of the plan:

Requires the plan to identify "no wolf zones" and "highly desirable wolf zones".

That requires that if minimum numbers are used to fulfill the requirements for delisting (a "conserved" number) an accompanying maximum number will be adopted beyond which wolves will not be able to grow.

That will be implemented only with a dedicated budget and necessary funding to pay for all the provisions of the Conservation Plan.

None of the livestock producerís minimum requirements were adequately provided for in the plan and that obviously is why I do not support the plan and wrote a minority opinion making very clear the areas of disagreement with it. It became a people control plan, a wolf introduction plan, albeit passive, just as surely as those plans in the states that had wolves forced into their presence by the active federal introduction.

Those issues are moot now that Judge Jonesí final order has vacated the federal down listing of the wolf and the accompanying 4 (d) rules. According to USFWS the result of that order is that any of the experimental wolves from Idaho dispersing into Oregon will receive full protection of the federal ESA. Round 2 goes to the environmentalists.

Clearly that ruling makes the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan irrelevant. Considering that ruling, the planís flaws pointed out in the hearings process, minority report and minority legal opinion we believe the Commission has one reasonable choice and that is to withdraw the draft plan and rules from consideration indefinitely.

We believe that if a serious re-evaluation is done of Oregonís laws that pertain to wolves, wildlife damage, endangered species act, exotic animals and private property rights and a literal application of those laws there will no need for a plan, no need for changes in law that the plan suggests and most especially no need for the huge expense required to implement the plan. Like the spaghetti sauce "Itís all in there".

Here is why:

Any wolf dispersing from Idahoís experimental population to Oregon is not an Oregon endangered species because it is not native to Oregon and it is introduced; nor is it non-game wildlife, it is a federal wolf under the jurisdiction of USFWS.

Wolves have been declared extinct/extirpated from Oregon and most of the western United States for nearly 60 years.

The Oregon legislature clearly believing that there were no native wolves remaining in or near Oregon, nearly 30 years ago, reclassified "any wolf (Canis lupus)" as an exotic animal and wrote prohibitions against keeping them. (609.305(3)

State law allows a city or county to prohibit by ordinance the keeping of wildlife and exotic animals and at least one county has passed such an ordinance to prevent wolves from coming to their county.

There is a clear acknowledgement that there is no such thing as a wolf native to Oregon left in existence and therefore "any wolf that is likely to be here would be in the direct custody of USFWS because it will be from an introduced population outside this state and as such will be their responsibility. They will be required to follow Oregonís laws on the keeping of exotics. They will have to control it to "avoid physical or financial risk to the public as a result of escape of the animal or otherwise" (609.325). They will be "liable for costs, injury or property damage incurred resulting from its escape from custody."(609.329)

If wolves migrate to Oregon from Idaho, state and federal wildlife managers agree that such wolf is unquestionably the introduced species from Canada and as such would require USFWS to immediately contain the wolf and either remove it from Oregon or control it under the conditions of a permit that they previously acquire from ODA.

We believe the prudent course of action by the Commission at this juncture is withdraw the draft plan from consideration for not meeting the needs of Oregonians, either socially, economically or legally. They should begin a periodic review of all the species on the Oregon endangered species list as required by law "at least once every five years" and which they have never done in the 18 years since the list was adopted. (496.176)

We are confident that such a thorough and honest review under established rules and laws will demonstrate that the likely dispersers from the introduced species in Idaho will not meet the necessary standards to remain on the Oregon list.

 

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