| Kurt Holtzen Magic Valley|
It's been nearly 20 years since the reintroduction of wolves to the West and one would think that we would no longer be in a debate over how we should handle "the wolf issue" and other large predators. Sometimes I get a sense that we have spent too much time engaged in the debate over whether they belong or not. It's time to change the conversation from do we need them to how can the impact to producers raising livestock be lessened in areas that large predators are a factor.
Most people are familiar with lethal management options but are unaware that this was never meant as a permanent solution. The cost of implementing is high and there are other options available. Many good organizations have been working on proactive non-lethal management options over the last 19 years and Defenders of Wildlife has been at the forefront. In 1999, they partnered with the Baily Wildlife Foundation and formed and included a livestock producer's council to provide input from the producer's point of view.
From this collaboration came "Livestock and Wolves, a guide to non-lethal tools and methods to reduce conflict," an excellent publications outlining the application and use of non-lethal management of large predators. As a practical implementation of this publication the Wood River Wolf Project has become an excellent example of non-lethal management in action. The Wood River Valley is nestled in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho and provides grazing for more than 25,000 sheep each summer and is also home to an active wolf pack.
Over a five year period, 2007-2013, the documented sheep losses to wolves in the project area were 90 percent lower than USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service reported Idaho loss-rate. Specifically, their loss rate averaged 0.05 percent compared to 0.54 percent NASS statewide estimates during the same period. This cooperative program between Defenders and producers should be a blueprint for what is possible when non-lethal management is implemented.
As the director of ranching outreach and non-lethal management at the National Wolf Watcher Coalition, it's my hope that this conversation to find longterm solutions can be ongoing, and I would be very happy to answer any question you might have or send you a PDF version of the Defenders publication.
Jackie Winkowski Daily Press
People out and about might encounter reps of "Michigan Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management" and the petition they're circulating. Their effort seeks to reinforce the politically-appointed Natural Resource Commission's ability to designate game species and issue fisheries orders. If successful, it will prevent people from voting on the designation of species as game. This includes the wolf and other species not already on the game species list. Examples of non-game animals include the sand hill crane and lynx.
In 2006 the majority of people in every county of Michigan, in a referendum vote, voted against mourning dove hunting. If the "citizens'" group succeeds, that type of effort will no longer be possible.
On the surface the "citizens'" campaign sounds good: "Protect hunting rights, protect fisheries from Asian carp, free hunting licenses for military." What they won't tell you is that already:
1. The federal budget includes an allocation of $225 million for Great Lakes issues.
2. Michigan's budget has $15 million allocated to combat invasive species including Asian carp.
3. Hunting licenses for military cost just $1.
What they're really trying to accomplish is taking away voters' right to referendum on wildlife issues.
The "citizens'" group has until May 20, to submit more than 250,000 valid signatures. With enough collected, the bill would head to the Legislature which would have 40 days to act. The legislature would have the potential to sign the bill into law without even the governor's signature. This would essentially render moot opponents' two ballot questions:
- Should the wolf be a game animal; and
- Should PA 21 of 2013 (which gave the politically-appointed Natural Resources Commission the authority to name game species) be enacted?
Should we give up our right to vote on wildlife issues and have them decided by political appointees? The NRC is not a panel of biologists, and they are not obligated to make science-based decisions. Not one of the current seven NRC members has a natural resources background. The only member who did voted, in 2013, against naming the wolf as a game animal and against the wolf hunt. That individual is no longer a member of the NRC.
It's time to contact our state senators and representatives. Tell them if presented with the petitions to vote no on the Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act. It has nothing to do with science.
Judy Jarrett Register Guard
Every day thousands of ranchers turn their animals out unsupervised for months on millions of acres of publicly owned grazing land. They are left vulnerable to untreated disease, inclement weather, accidents and occasionally death by predators - including wolves, cougars, grizzlies and coyotes.
Feds wage war on wildlife
Why are we surprised when domestic animals are favored over our wildlife?
The ranchers are rewarded for irresponsible husbandry with compensation for dead animals and taxpayer-supported U.S. Wildlife Services Department employees who hunt down predators and kill them, along with untargeted animals in the process. For more information on the war on wildlife funded by your tax dollars, check out predatordefense.org.