Rancher at odds with wolves as state looks to revise predator plan

MGN Online

A Prospect rancher under siege from wolf attacks said he's frustrated and wonders how the state will revise Oregon's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan effectively.

Oregon Department of Forestry and Wildlife announced Thursday the revised plan will be presented to the commission at its March 15 meeting in Salem for final adoption despite setbacks.

"I've lost five calves and one guard dog. Those are confirmed wolf kills," Ted Birdseye said. "They'll be back it's just a matter of time."

Birdseye said he spends countless sleepless nights trying to protect his livestock.

"It is frustrating. It's becoming a big problem. A lot of people don't realize the stress and anxiety involved in this," Birdseye said.

He said his dogs give a special bark when the wolves are detected in the area.

"I'm out in the field at two and four in the morning. You hope you can run them off. Or scare them off even if you don't see them. Then you don't go back to sleep. It's a pretty disturbing situation. Everybody is at a loss as to what to do next," Birdseye said.

Environmental group stakeholders with Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife announced late last Friday, Jan. 4 that they would not attend the final meeting.

“We were disappointed these groups left the discussion and we did not have the full stakeholder group present at the final meeting,” said Derek Broman, ODFW Carnivore Coordinator.

“Since the drafting of the original 2005 plan, stakeholders remain very passionate so consensus is challenging to achieve.”

The facilitated process was designed to create a space for stakeholders to negotiate and allow for give and take on all sides,” he continued.

“We thank all stakeholders for their time and attention at the meetings and for the progress made on several issues, and everyone thanks Kearns and West for their professional facilitating of these meetings.”

Stakeholder groups are finding consensus on collaring and tracking of the predators but remain divided on lethal methods.

Birdseye recommends a electrified fence to keep the wolves out.

"They could have built a permanent wolf fence all around here, probably. Five strand hot wire to keep these wolves out. No one can come up with the money to do that," Birdseye said.

Since the first Wolf Conservation and Management Plan was approved in 2005, hunting of wolves has been in the Plan as a potential tool to manage wolf populations.

Throughout the current review of the Wolf Plan, no proposals have been made by ODFW to begin hunting wolves. If hunting of wolves were to be proposed by staff in the future, it would have to be approved by the Commission in a public rule-making process.

Instead Birdseye suggests tagging and collaring the known wolves in the wild would be helpful with his sleepless nights.

"The collars give you a little more piece of mind. It's not going to prevent them from coming in but if they are in the vicinity you can call it up go out there and haze them if you have to," Birdseye said.

He said when they know where the wolves are they can handle them better.

"If they are collared the biologist can call me up and say, 'Hey Ted! There is a wolf in your field. The wolf is on the 5 mile marker, wherever. Otherwise every night it's like, we hope the wolves don't start howling tonight."

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