Wolves in the House (and Senate)

Predator advocates are wary of the latest anti-wolf and anti-cougar bills that have been introduced to the current abbreviated session of the Oregon Legislature and call the bills a waste of time and money.

Sally Mackler of Predator Defense says, “This is a session that’s supposed to be focused on the budget and on the economic crisis we are facing. If we had all the time we had spent on the cougar bill we could have fixed the economy by now.”

Mackler says a bill to reverse the voter-mandated ban on sport hunting cougars with packs of dogs has been introduced at every session for the past 15 years. HB 4119, which would allow the hunting of cougars with hounds on a county by county basis, will be heard before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Valentine’s Day, Mackler says. She calls the bill a “poorly thought out and bad idea,” and says among its problems is that “county administrators are not trained to make wildlife decisions.”

In 2010 Oregon sold almost 50,000 cougar hunting tags, Mackler says. She says Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has not given her the information on how many tags were sold in 2010 and how many cougars were killed

Mackler says Predator Defense also objects to HB 4158, a bill that would call for “the conservation of wolves to include killing wolves.”

She says, “If that isn’t an oxymoron, I don’t know what is.”

She says there are “already vehicles in place to address depredation by wolves in the Oregon wolf plan that are very specific.”

Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity have sent letters to Sen. Jackie Dingfelder and Sen. Floyd Prozanski saying the bill “threatens to undermine both wolf recovery in Oregon and the state’s Endangered Species Act” and asking the legislators to defeat the bill, which is being pushed by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

A letter to Gov. John Kitzhaber signed by 21 conservation groups asks the governor “to strongly and clearly oppose any legislation that would circumvent the state Endangered Species Act.”

Mackler says that “Less than 5 percent of depredation in Oregon is due to predation and a tiny fraction of that is due to wolves.” She says 95 percent of livestock deaths are due to exposure, illnesses and pregnancy in cattle, which she calls preventable on the part of ranchers  “if they took a more active roll in the husbandry of the animals.”

Cattle, Mackler says, unlike wolves, are not an endangered species in Oregon.

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