Oregon officials are proposing a new framework for managing wolves that prey on livestock.
The East Oregonian reports that a possible deal emerged Tuesday that involves ranchers making clearly defined efforts to protect livestock and ward off wolves with non-lethal deterrents.
If ranchers follow those rules and still lose livestock to wolves, and the wolves meet the state’s definition of “chronic depredation,” ranchers can ask that the wolves be killed.
Ranchers, conservation groups and state officials have been working with a mediator to find a solution.
“There’s got to be something for everybody on the table,” said Kevin Blakely, deputy administrator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Division. “I think that’s how you start to get some movement.”
Todd Nash of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association said the proposal would provide much-needed clarity.
“There should be no dispute whether you did enough non-lethal,” he said.
Sean Stevens of Oregon Wild said environmentalists like the idea because it prioritizes non-lethal measures.
“Done well and with a lot of goodwill, this could be effective,” Stevens said. “It really does focus on avoiding conflict.”
Still, both sides have concerns. Stevens said the state’s definition of “chronic depredation” needs work. It’s defined as two attacks on livestock over any period of time. Oregon officials have proposed changing that to three attacks on livestock in a 12-month period, but Stevens said that was still too broad.
“We really need to be thinking about an appropriate timeline,” he said.
Nash said the current system isn’t working.
“Producers don’t call in depredations at this point,” he said. “You’ve lost the human tolerance condition among ranchers, in northeast Oregon especially.”
How to pay for the program is unclear. A possible way involves the Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Grant Program. That program is administered by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and receives money from the Legislature.
Officials plan to develop plans to present to the groups on Nov. 5. A meeting is set for Nov. 27 in Pendleton.