Editorial: More work needed to prevent wolves from killing livestock


Wolves reintroduced themselves to Oregon. Ever since, there’s been a lot of debate about what to do about them.

They aren’t usually predators of people, though don’t try to make friends. As for ranch cattle, wolves can treat them like a buffet.

Nobody knows that better than rancher Ted Birdseye. His Mill-Mar Ranch of 275 acres in Butte Falls has had more losses to wolves than any other rancher in Oregon, according to OPB. Eight of his cows and two of his dogs have been killed by wolves. It’s the Rogue Pack at work.

Is that bad luck? The cost of doing business? Something the government should compensate him for?

Oregon has a compensation program. It has paid out money to help ranchers hire riders, buy radios, hang flags from fences and compensate for losses of cattle, sheep and working dogs. That seems absolutely justified if government and Oregonians want this natural predator to return.

What’s good is that people who want wolves to thrive in Oregon are working so hard to help Birdseye’s ranch from being the place the Rogue Pack goes for meals. A school group came to his ranch and helped him remove some bone piles, according to OPB. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf biologist John Stephenson has spent nights at the ranch to try to keep wolves away. He helped Birdseye put up flagging on its fences. Birdseye even tried those inflatable dancing men you see on car lots.

Thanks to Oregon’s compensation program, federal grants and contributions from environmentalists Birdseye is getting three miles of electric fencing around his ranch. It cost about $40,000. The same kind of fencing has worked in Montana to keep wolves out.

The return of wolves is a welcome sign to some and a bad sign to others. But it is great to see different ends of the spectrum of views cooperate. Prevention of wolves killing livestock is key for people on all sides of the issue.

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