Horse News

In Support of Welfare Ranchers WDFW Spent $119,500 to Shoot Seven Wolves

By Don Jenkins as published in The North West News

“Government, be it state or federal, hard at work spending tax dollars to defend welfare ranchers while skewing natural predator numbers to the point that mother nature cannot take care of her own.  We have seen actual geological damage to National Parks, such as Yellowstone, due to these strong-arm tactics and as wild equine advocates we understand that natural selection and predation work far better in herd management than do helicopters and drugs.  When will man learn that nature was well balanced and functioned perfectly fine long before two legged predators ever walked onto the playing field?” ~ R.T.

“Washington Fish and Wildlife had planned to eliminate the entire Profanity Peak pack, which was preying on welfare cattle in the Colville National Forest.”

wolf-packWashington spent more than $119,500 to kill seven wolves, according to Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello, who said the agency will look at culling wolfpacks in the future in “the most frugal way we can.”

“We know that lethal removal is part of wolf management. It’s something that will occur again in Washington,” he said. “I do think that as an agency we have to think about cost-savings.”

Fish and Wildlife spent the money during an operation that began in August and ended Oct. 19 in northeastern Washington. Expenses included renting a helicopter, hiring a trapper, and paying the salaries and benefits of WDFW employees.

Public disclosure

A preliminary figure, $119,577.92, was tallied in response to public disclosure requests and was posted by an advocacy group, Protect the Wolves. Martorello said a final figure may be higher.

Fish and Wildlife had planned to eliminate the entire Profanity Peak pack, which was preying on cattle in the Colville National Forest. The department suspended the operation with four wolves surviving.

WDFW said the chances of attacks on livestock continuing were low because the grazing season was ending.

The department did enter the operation with a spending limit, Martorello said. “It’s something we think about, but money wasn’t a factor in suspending it,” he said.

The cost exceeded the roughly $26,000 spent to shoot one wolf in 2014 and the $76,000 spent to shoot seven wolves in 2012.

Cattle Producers of Washington President Scott Nielsen said lethal-removal costs will continue to be an issue.

“You have to remove the problem wolves if you ever want public acceptance in this area,” said Nielsen, a Stevens County rancher. “To say, ‘never kill a wolf,’ that is not a reasonable position.”

The state could authorize ranchers to remove wolves that are attacking livestock, he said.

“We would work collectively,” Nielsen said. “It would cost the state nothing.”

Martorello said he did not have any proposals for cutting the cost of killing wolves. He noted that Fish and Wildlife spends more on non-lethal measures to prevent wolf attacks on livestock, an expense ranchers are expected to share.

Non-lethal measures

The department’s two-year budget adopted last year included $750,000 for non-lethal measures.

Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity said the money spent shooting wolves would have been better used to move cattle off grazing allotments and paying for supplemental feed.

“I think the vast majority of the public would be very supportive of doing something like that, instead of killing wolves,” she said.

Wolves are not federally protected in the eastern one-third of Washington. The state’s policy calls for shooting wolves when measures such as putting more people on horseback around herds fail to stop depredations.

Ranchers are eligible for compensation for livestock attacked by wolves. Ranchers say many attacks go unconfirmed by the department and that compensation doesn’t address all the problems that have been created by wolves returning to Washington.

“I do not raise cows to feed to the department’s predators,” Nielsen said. “That is not responsible husbandry,”

5 replies »

  1. For several years I served in my county’s Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife. (In Nevada the counties appoint their own boards that in turn make recommendations to the state’s Board of Wildlife Commissioners.) In that capacity you get to learn a great deal about how the sausage is made.

    It soon became clear that there that there were two general categories of ranchers out there: professionals who were reasonable and rational and those who a lot of folks like to describe as welfare ranchers. The latter tend to constantly complain about the government while they get in line for any taxpayer funded service that benefits them personally – and some will bend the truth beyond any trace of reality to get what they feel they are entitled to.

    What boggled my mind was the amount of money spent in depredation where in some cases, as illustrated in RT’s article, alternatives would have cost but a fraction.

    Also the notion that ranchers shouldn’t have to suffer any losses is ludicrous. Life doesn’t work that way. It’s one thing if urban encroachment skews the natural balance that in turn produces abnormal spikes in losses for producers who are in other ways responsible. But the frustration expressed in our board involved a portion of the ranching and farming industries that actually used losses as profit-making schemes.

    I’d better not get started on all of that as wolves are just a tiny piece of a big picture.

    Those who abuse the system are but a minority, but they cost the taxpayers an astronomical amount of money.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know it’s all another welfare ranching lie. They viewed to kill all the wolves that were brought in when they decimated every wolf in the United States of great America. Dammit look art this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find the presumptions here troubling. The national forests are not and were never intended to be private, for-profit pastures for individuals. These are public lands, held in public trust, for multiple use for ALL citizens. Grazing permits are a privilege, not a right, and are revokable. The quote below is pure hubris. If folks want to raise cattle for profit, they should raise them on private property, not public. If they want the substantial grazing subsidy provided by low-cost grazing on public lands, then they have to accept the predictable losses from wildlife existing there. If they don’t want to deal with that, they don’t have to graze livestock on public lands.

    Cattle prices were low in October, too. The article doesn’t provide information on the numbers or ages of cattle killed by wolves, but usually calves are the easier prey. Prices for fed cattle (more valuable than stocker steers) is around $110/100 lbs. right now. If you figure a calf is worth around $500 at the end of the grazing period, then the $119,577.92 evidently spent to kill seven wolves should equate to 239 dead calves to justify the costs. If you figure a grazing period of 3 months, that comes to wolves having to kill 80 calves each month, or about 3 per day (not likely for only 7 wolves, but there are probably more wolves around).

    Since our policies compensate ranchers for lost livestock already anyway, there can be no financial justification for killing wolves (a public resource) to protect a private resource which is undertaken in full awareness of the risks and subsidies, and when losses are already fully compensated anyway (there are other reasons cattle die or are killed no matter where they live).

    The wolves are not “the department’s” but the American public’s. It is not responsible wildlife management to manage a national forest as a private, subsidized, predator-free pasture.

    “I do not raise cows to feed to the department’s predators,” Nielsen said. “That is not responsible husbandry,”

    Responsible husbandry then would mean Mr. Nielsen should keep his cattle at home and not expect the public to prop up his enterprises.

    Liked by 2 people

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