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DeFazio wolf comments uncalled for

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would remove the grey wolf from the federal Endangered Species list. The bill passed on a 196-180 vote.

The measure would strip wolves of federal protection in California, and the western two-thirds of Oregon and Washington. Wolves already have been de-listed in Idaho and the eastern one-third of Oregon and Washington.

Cattlemen are hailing the measure’s passage. It now goes to the U.S. Senate where, because chamber rules require 60 votes to end debate, it faces extremely long odds.

We take exception to comments made by Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s 4th District, in defense of keeping federal protections on wolves. He called the bill “a talking point for a few idiots.”

We recognize there are honest disagreements about wildlife policy, but insulting the intelligence of your opponents is hardly the stuff of thoughtful debate. The cattle and sheep producers of the West are not idiots and they deserve more respect from an elected representative.

We also think DeFazio should consider those who have to deal with the wolves first hand.

DeFazio told the House about Oregon’s famous “wandering wolf,” OR-7. OR-7 hailed from northeast Oregon. He wandered to California, came back into the southern Cascades where he found a mate and has produced pups. He and his progeny, seven or eight wolves in total, comprise the Rogue pack — so named not for their behavior but after the river valley where they roam.

“Guess what? We are not having catastrophic predation on cattle in Southern Oregon,” DeFazio said. “We could accommodate more wolves.”

The Rogue pack has a taste for livestock. It was credited with five confirmed kills in a three-week period earlier this month. Producers say the toll is higher, but those kills have not been confirmed by state wildlife officials.

Are the losses to depredation in Western Oregon “catastrophic?” Certainly not, if you aren’t running cattle or sheep on public and private grazing allotments.

Maybe DeFazio would have a different opinion if his livelihood was being devoured on the hoof and there was little he could do about it because the federal government tied his hands.

The gentleman from Springfield need not fear. His district will get more wolves. But should ranchers be forced to continue to bear their losses?

We have always believed that wolves have a place in the wild. But we’ve never believed that cattlemen and sheep producers should be required to provide a free buffet.

It’s time to end the protections for wolves as they continue to multiply and spread across the region without any help from wildlife managers.



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