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Ag’s voice must be heard on wolf management

California officials have declared the gray wolf an endangered species. Though there are no wolves in the state, with a mating pair and pups just across the Oregon stateline it's only a matter time.

Our View

The California Fish and Game Commission voted June 4 to list the gray wolf as endangered in California.

Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, who voted against the measure, said she was concerned that a listing now would alienate some members of a working group that’s spent more than two years developing a wolf management plan for the state.

She was right. The California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Cattlemen’s Association are considering leaving the group, contending the listing precludes the adoption of many of the protections they would have liked included in the plan.

Ag interests had hoped to forestall a listing, joining other stakeholders in contending that a well-considered management plan would protect wolves and their interests.

Based on a peer-reviewed study, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife had recommended the wolf not be listed.

Its scientists noted that there are no established wolf packs in California. There are, in fact, no wolves at all in permanent residence.

But that’s sure to change.

OR-7, Oregon’s wandering male gray wolf, began making brief incursions into Northern California in late 2011.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups requested the petition in 2012, shortly after the arrival of OR-7.

Oregon officials announced last week that OR-7 has found a mate and produced at least two pups in the state’s southern Cascades.

It won’t be long before his progeny will be preying on California livestock.

And that’s why ag interests should remain engaged in the management plan working group.

California’s endangered species law is pretty clear about what ranchers can’t do to wolves threatening their stock. It is illegal to “hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill” a California endangered species.

Fish and Wildlife Department officials say the management plan will attempt to manage wolf-livestock conflicts to minimize livestock losses, and will seek to manage the distribution of wolves to places where there’s adequate habitat.

Ag interests shouldn’t leave environmentalists and other non-ranch stakeholders to work out those details.



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