|Photo by Rick Lamplugh|
The recent slaughter of wolves by state officials in Washington and Oregon highlights a sad fact: cattle grazing on public lands is lethal for wolves. Washington has 1.1 million cattle, Oregon 1.3 million. About a third of each state is public land that many cattle run roughshod over. Those public lands are by necessity the home of each state’s minuscule wolf population. With so many cattle invading wolf territory, conflict happens.
Each state has a Wolf Management Plan. Each plan’s basic premise: wolves are the problem and must pay the price for cattle-wolf conflict.
Each state needs a Cattle Management Plan. The premise of the plan I propose: Killing wolves on public land is not acceptable; wolves have no where else to live. Instead, the livestock owner bears the burden for reducing conflict his animals cause while grazing on public land in wolf territory.
Just as wolves have several chances under current Wolf Management Plans, the owner would have several chances under the proposed Cattle Management Plan.
With the first cattle-wolf conflict on public land, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife would determine steps the owner must take to keep livestock separate from wolves. This analysis and compliance would happen quickly, let’s say within fourteen days.
With the second conflict, the owner’s herd would have to be moved away from the wolves they infringed upon. Let’s say a move of thirty miles within seven days.
With the third conflict, the owner’s privilege of grazing livestock on public land would be suspended for perhaps two years.
A Cattle Management Plan such as this should be operating in Washington, Oregon, and every other state with cattle causing conflict on public land. This plan puts the responsibility for reducing cattle-wolf conflict on the shoulders of the owner that benefits from the cost savings of grazing in wolf territory. And it saves the lives of many cattle and wolves.
I will send letters about this plan to elected officials in wolf states with lots of cattle and lots of public land. Perhaps some will find it of interest. If you know of a possibly receptive official in your wolf state, please send me the name via comment or private message.
Indie author Rick Lamplugh writes to protect wildlife and preserve wildlands. His new book, Deep into Yellowstone: A Year’s Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy, is available signed from Rick, or unsigned on Amazon. His best seller, In the Temple of Wolves, is available signed, or unsigned on Amazon.