COLVILLE, Wash. — Members of a Coordinated Resource Management task group toured John Dawson’s Colville ranch Thursday to better understand wolf-livestock conflicts.
The group’s goal is to bring together agencies and landowners with natural resource problems to find a solution, said David Guenther, president of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts, which hosted the tour.
Dawson recommends ranchers consider all options for dealing with wolves and determine which ones fit their operations.
“We’ve got wolves, they’re not going to leave us, and we have to adapt and learn how we’re going to live with them if we’re going to stay in the ranching business,” he said.
Dawson said he lost a yearling and had seven cows come in without calves three years ago, but said a range rider has averted any losses during the last two years.
“It’s an expense most ranches can’t afford,” he said. “The ranchers in this area are having the biggest burden of the wolves at this time. If the game department is in charge of managing them and the environmentalists, which is the majority of our state’s vote, want them, then they should help fund them.”
Use of flags as a wolf deterrent would only work in a confined calving area because his spring and summer pastures are too spread out, he said.
Guenther believes the task group can offer assistance on wolf-livestock conflicts. He hopes to assist local leaders and bring groups with differing positions together, including livestock producers and wolf advocates.
“See if that group can be able to sit around the table, set aside where they have differences,” he said. “We want those folks to look one another in the eye and say, ‘OK, we’re here, but where do we all come together?’ and start moving toward something positive that keeps drawing in business and enhances the ecological community.”