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Cattlemen sound off as gray wolf listing decision looms

Tim Hearden
The California Cattlemen's Association is urging members to voice their opinions as the state Fish and Game Commission is set to consider a petition to list the gray wolf as threatened during its April 16 meeting in Ventura.

SACRAMENTO — A statewide ranchers’ group is urging its members to sound off on the proposed listing of the gray wolf in California as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act.

California Cattlemen’s Association officials will attend the state Fish and Game Commission’s meeting April 16 in Ventura, at which the body will consider environmental groups’ petition to protect the wolf.

The cattle group, which opposes the listing, is urging ranchers to attend the meeting or send written comments to the CCA office so that a stack of comments can be delivered to the commission.

“CCA is in strong support of federally delisting the gray wolf,” vice president of government relations Justin Oldfield said in an email. He added that “any action to list the wolf under CESA would impede efforts by ranchers to properly protect their livestock to prevent depredation and tie the hands of state agencies to properly manage the species.”

The CCA also questions whether the gray wolf is even eligible for listing because the presence of one lone wolf that roams between Oregon and Northern California doesn’t represent a “viable” population as required under the law, Oldfield argued.

The decision comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been considering a proposal to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf in the Lower 48 states. Federal officials have said reintroduction programs have been a success and the animal no longer needs listing.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups requested the state listing in 2012, shortly after the arrival of OR-7, the first known gray wolf to enter California in decades. That wolf has since returned to Oregon.

A preliminary study by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife last fall found there isn’t a need for such a listing, partly because no wolf populations are established here.

State officials did not immediately return an email seeking comment about the April meeting. However, DFW director Charlton Bonham told the commission in a written report he concurs with the earlier recommendation.

“There is no known breeding population of gray wolf in the state, and there likely has not been one for many decades,” Bonham told the panel. “Consequently, the normal evaluation of threats and risk to the continued existence of the species in the state is not possible because the gray wolf as a species has likely not continuously inhabited California.”

The CCA is encouraged by Bonham’s report, though it is concerned that DFW will apparently propose to limit certain management tools such as the use of lethal force in cases of livestock depredation, the organization told members in a legislative bulletin. Oldfield said the CCA is also disappointed that the proposed listing will be considered during a previously scheduled board meeting in Ventura rather than in Northern California, which would likely be impacted sooner by an established wolf population.

The 8:30 a.m. meeting will be held at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, 450 East Harbor Road, Ventura. Comments can be mailed to the CCA office at 1221 H St., Sacramento, CA 95814, faxed to (916) 444-2194 or emailed to kirk@calcattlemen.org . The CCA is requesting comments by April 11.

Online

California Fish and Game Commission meeting agenda: http://www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2014/apr/041614agd.pdf

Charlton Bonham’s report to the commission: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=76664&inline=1

California Cattlemen’s Association: http://www.calcattlemen.org



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