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Wolves on agenda for Oregon, Washington cattlemen meeting

By Eric Mortenson

Capital Press

As producers gather for mid-year convention, the Oregon Cattlemen's Association is considering a PR offensive regarding its wolf problems.

Wolves, sage-grouse and water quality are on the agenda when the Oregon and Washington cattlemen’s associations hold a joint mid-year conference and trade show June 26-28 in Pendleton.

A Thursday afternoon workshop focuses on identifying signs of wolf “depredation,” a key factor in compiling evidence for wolf control work and compensation due producers whose livestock are killed or injured by the revived packs of northeastern Oregon.

It’s a recurring topic as the Pacific Northwest balances recovery of an endangered species with the interests of ranchers who are trying to make a living raising cattle or sheep. In addition to physical injury or death, a 2010 study by Oregon State University estimated that wolves cost northeast Oregon ranchers $261 per head of cattle in the form of weight loss, lower pregnancy rates and management costs.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association appears to be stepping up its effort to draw attention to the impact of wolves. For the first time, the association last week issued a news release about an attack on a cow in Umatilla County and released a graphic photograph of the cow’s injury — a gaping bite wound to its left hind leg. The photograph was taken by the rancher, Mark Lane.

In the past, the association has not said anything about individual livestock attacks. Such incidents are investigated and reported in low-key fashion by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. In this case the department confirmed the depredation by the Umatilla River pack and said the “exposed bite-caused muscle tissue damage on th left hind leg was especially severe.” The department does not include photographs with its reports. The report is available online at : http://dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/docs/dep_inv/140614_Umatilla_Depredation_Report.pdf

Kay Teisl, executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said the group is “definitely working toward informing the public more about the issues that effect ranching.” The association recently hired a former TV and newspaper reporter, Scott Anderson, as communications officer.

Meanwhile, rancher Mark Lane said the injured cow appears to be recovering. The cow had been bred, however, and he doesn’t know yet if it kept its calf.

“It looks like it’s probably going to make it, I’m keeping the infection down,” he said.

Lane said he’s moved most of his cows from the pasture where the attack happened. He said he is a small operator compared to many, with 45 cow-calf pairs.


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