OPB Wolf Update
For an excellent update on the status of wolves in Oregon, watch the Oregon Public Broadcasting Oregon Field Guide Special Living with Wolves from November 18, 2010.
Oregon Predator Status Report
Cougars, bears, and coyotes are among predators that are persecuted in Oregon and most other states that are lucky enough to have such majestic animals.
Oregon's Cougar Management Plan is focused exclusively on killing cougars in an attempt to reduce the population to the estimated size it was in 1994, the year voters prohibited hound hunting and baiting of bears and cougars. The Fish and Wildlife Commission just approved ODFW's proposal to open up 4 new target areas in eastern Oregon to kill cougars to increase deer and elk herds. There has been no restriction of hunting in these units; in fact there is even antlerless hunting of does and fawns. If herds are in that dire condition, it should be incumbent upon managers to reduce or eliminate sport hunting pressure, certainly before killing natural predators. Any and all cougars located in the Ukiah, Wenaha, Warner and Steens units will be killed with strangling snares, leg hold traps or hounded and shot. Violating the will of the voters, volunteer hunters will be allowed to hound hunt cougars in these units. The killing is indiscriminate: those cougars killed do not have a history of conflict.
The numbers of cougars killed in Oregon has more than doubled in the last 15 years, going from less than 200 to over 500 annually in the last few years. Ongoing research in Washington state, which has an identical management history to Oregon, has shown that cougar population is not exploding as managers there thought/assumed, but in fact is declining, and that conflicts with people are being caused by overhunting which leaves a preponderance of young animals known to be the primary cause of conflicts. As a result of the information, Washington managers are reducing hunting tags. Oregon management refuses to acknowledge or consider the research and instead is continuing to increase hunting opportunities (selling over 43 thousand cougar tags yearly) and the 2006 Plan adds more mortality in these chosen target areas.
Recently two wolves were killed by government agents in eastern Oregon. See the Center for Biological Diversity - Wolf Recovery in Oregon article. Wolves are struggling to return to Oregon but timing was not good since the species was recently delisted, allowing them to be pursued and killed for attacking livestock. It is troubling that cows and sheep trump wolves. Given this mentality and the weakness of the Oregon Wolf Plan, there is little hope for wolves to reach a sustainable population in our state. Please contact the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and ask them to alter the wolf plan so that wolves cannot be killed for any reason until sustainable numbers of the species exist in Oregon.
Oregon Hunters Association just provided $12,000 for continuing aerial gunning of coyotes in e. Oregon. See the La Grande "The Observer": Grant Targets Boosting Mule Deer Numbers Again article. This is taking place in the exact same units where cougar killing is going on, in hopes of boosting deer and elk populations for hunters. Last year over 1600 coyotes were gunned from the air in eastern Oregon.
Contact your legislators and let them know how you feel. 800 332 2313 Contact Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and voice your concerns at: firstname.lastname@example.org (10-15-09)
Documentary "Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators"
Juniper Group October Meeting A Success
Thanks to all of you who attended and to our panelists Clair Kunkel, Dick Waring, and Asante Riverwind. Both the film and panel question and answer period were very informative and stimulating.
"Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators" is a Green Fire documentary and was screened in Bend on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 7:00 PM in the Central Oregon Environmental Center Audubon Room at the Juniper Group October meeting. It was followed by a Q&A panel discussion with scientists, wildlife managers, and conservationists.
Narrated by Peter Coyote, Lords of Nature journeys to the heart of predator country: the Yellowstone plateau; the canyons of Zion; the farm country of northern Minnesota and the rugged open range of central Idaho – all places now resettled by the great beasts society once banished. Here scientists discover these top carnivores as revitalizing forces of nature, keystone species whose presence in sufficient numbers can dramatically reverse the slow decay of America’s wild West.
In Yellowstone National Park, the filmmakers visit a land recently inhabited again by wolves after a 70-year absence, and find a chain of life once again flourishing since their return. From restoring stream banks once again cloaked with willow and re-colonizing beavers and songbirds, to wolf leftovers drawing record-setting gatherings of scavengers, scientists find the flowering of Yellowstone magically coinciding with the return of its wolves. And in the canyons of Zion, scientists find more of the same, flowers and trees, butterflies, frogs and fish all flourishing under the guardian watch of the cougar.
But what about people, what about the societies who once have felt compelled to exterminate these powerful animals? The filmmakers traveled to Minnesota, to a land harboring 3,000 wolves — more wolves than any state in the lower 48. Here they meet livestock producers raising sheep and cattle alongside their wild neighbors. They talked with deer hunters who view their fellow predators with caution and respect. In Idaho they found a groundbreaking collaboration among ranchers, wildlife managers and conservationists testing non-lethal predator control.
Look at the Lords of Nature Discussion Guide for thought provoking questions and answers about the role of predators in our environment. More information on this film can be found at the Lords of Nature web site. Copies of the DVD can be purchased by contacting Gretchen Valido. A portion of the proceeds go to the Juniper Group.