Over the past few years, ranchers have had little hope of being fully compensated for the impact of reintroducing wolves into Oregon. HB3514, a bill that is currently awaiting a hearing from the revenue committee, could help change that.
HB3514 is a bill that, “expands credit to include cost of nonlethal actions undertaken by tax payer to minimize conflict between wolves and livestock or working dogs and compensation for above-normal loss to livestock attributed to wolf depredation.”
Rancher George Rollins from Halfway, Oregon said the impact of wolves on his cattle is twofold. He said there is an economic impact from losing calves and seeing cows unable to reproduce due to stress, but that is not all. “There is an emotional impact when we turn out cattle and have to wonder which animals will return,” Rollins said.
While the passing of HB3514 won’t help prevent wolf attacks on livestock, it would help ranchers with their financial loss. Rollins said the passing of HB3514 “would show that the legislature appreciates our situation and the effort we have made to adhere to the rules.”
Rancher Sharon Beck from Union County said the bill would not fix the problem, but could be of help. “The bill would provide a Band-Aid for some, but will be like trying to put a tourniquet on a sucking chest wound to others. Non-lethal actions prove to be mostly ineffective in most cases, but if and when they are effective, there certainly should be a tax credit for those who choose to apply them,” said Beck.
It may be that some see rancher’s problems with wolves killing livestock as a minor issue because they do not fully understand the situation. Rollins said he wishes Oregonians could see just how much ranchers care about the environment. “We are in the environment every day, not just on weekends or holidays,” he said. “We are good stewards of the land and our livestock.”
Beck agrees that ranchers dispute with wolves killing their livestock is not properly understood. “People want wolves saved, but they don’t realize what that means. The burden we suffer from livestock lost to wolves should not be endured alone,” said Beck.
As Oregon ranchers continue to abide by the Oregon Wolf Plan and all that it has laid out for the future, HB3514 could help ease the impact of losses they are experiencing. For Rollins, passing this bill would provide a glimmer of hope for the future. “We just want fair and just treatment under the law.”
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.
By Kayli Hanley
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