Settlement reached between ranchers & wolves

By Oregon Cattlemen’s AssociationOCA

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) has been involved in settlement talks beginning in 2012 in efforts to resolve the lawsuit and the injunction filed on October 5, 2011 which enjoined the lethal take of wolves involved with chronic depredation of livestock in Oregon. The Oregon’s cattle industry has invested over $250,000 and countless volunteer hours in wolf related research, education and this litigation since the migration of wolves to Oregon. OCA engaged in this case to ensure fair representation of the ranching community in Oregon’s wolf management policy. OCA is content with the settlement that was finally reached on Thursday, May 23rd.

In the last month; while the OCA, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Department of Justice, Governor’s office and petitioners worked through concerns towards finalizing a settlement agreement, the cattle ranchers in Wallowa County have suffered several more depredations, injuries of livestock and missing livestock. OCA Wolf Committee Chair, Rod Childers, said: “The unsung heroes of this entire process have been the ranchers whom have patiently waited for a resolution to this ongoing wolf depredation problem, and have applied non- lethal measures that were applicable to their operations as directed by ODFW. As a rancher, I am relieved to see we now have all the tools in the box necessary for effective implementation of Oregon’s Wolf Conservation Plan.”

This resolution to the litigation (which halted the ongoing implementation of the Oregon Wolf Plan as adopted in 2005) comes at a critical time with seasons changing and depredations again increasing. The OCA believes ranchers have been taking the correct steps through implementing non-lethal measures, and this agreement is in line with what has been happening on ranches in efforts to reduce wolf livestock conflicts. OCA is particularly pleased the agreement includes a provision to authorize permit-less take of wolves that are chasing livestock. This has been a continuous request of OCA since the initial wolf plan was drafted.

OCA President, Curtis Martin, commented “The finalization of this settlement was coming down to the wire; with time running out for the Legislature to take the necessary actions in returning management authority of wolves to ODFW – of which everyone thought they already had – and frustration levels among ranchers being no longer bearable with depredations increasing and no practical recourse to deal with this problem. Even though producers can be compensated for the animal, it does not begin to cover the costs involved with change of management, weight loss and lowered conception rates of cattle, not to mention the mental anguish when observing these types of gruesome depredations by wolves.”

The OCA believes a reasonable compromise has been reached and we appreciate everyone’s effort and particularly that of Brett Brownscombe, Natural Resources Policy Advisor to Governor Kitzhaber, for his leadership in bringing this issue to resolution.

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