Although there are only 23 documented wolves in Eastern Oregon, it seems they have gained the spotlight in Oregon's Legislature as the Oregon Cattlemen's Association testified in support of five new bills which would strengthen a preexisting plan to manage wolves. Ranchers complain that the wolves continue to encroach on their lands, killing their domestic livestock and creating an unsafe area.
The existing wolf management plan was created in October 2010. It allows wildlife experts to kill wolves that threaten people. Many wildlife experts are worried that if the ranchers themselves who feel threatened by wolves are permitted to kill them, poaching of wolves may increase. One of the bills actually proposes paying farmers for wolf kills.
Only 39 domestic animals have been killed by wolves since 1999 — less than one percent of all domestic livestock and hardly a number which cries for public attention on such an issue. Not only is this statistic a small percentage of domestic livestock, but it doesn't even take into account the fact that coyotes, cougars and bears also kill domestic livestock.
Farmers are already compensated for killed livestock. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has spent more than $1 million on wolf management since 1999. During such bleak times economically and environmentally-speaking, it seems almost a mockery of the true problems Oregonians face to spend such time, energy and funds on what appears to be a problem that affects so few.
Maybe the Oregon Cattlemen's Association and the ranchers hold more political clout than grassroots environmental movements, but when Oregon is facing major environmental and budget concerns, we probably should not be arguing over the management of 23 wolves.