More on wolves and ranchers

Wolves, ranchers should co-exist.

Published on February 27, 2014 10:05AM

As a veterinarian who has a (hobby) farm and who has worked with large animals, I have a great deal of admiration and respect for farmers and ranchers. I am especially impressed by those who choose to find ways to make a predator-friendly living. I think the reason so many wolf advocates are frustrated and angry is that the only tool so many farmers reach for when dealing with wolves is killing them.

According to a 2010 USDA report, the types of non-lethal deterrence practiced by Oregon farmers (and the percentage of farms that follow them) are as follows: guard animals (27.3), exclusion fencing (24.4), herding (1.7), night penning (7.2), fright tactics (1.9), carcass removal (12.9), culling (12.6), frequent checks (60.9). There is room for improvement here.

The same study reports that, 7 percent of losses of cattle before slaughter are due to predators, .4 percent due to wolves. I am not saying these losses are insignificant, but perhaps farmers might make more of an effort to live with animals that are treasured by so many Americans.

As for inalienable private property rights, there really is no such thing: all of us have to answer at one time or another to our communities telling us what we can and cannot do on our property, even the seizure of the property in the name of eminent domain.

Many people are indeed ignorant about the hard work farmers do, but their voices are not intended to offend: They are simply a plea to share the land with wolves and not just reach for a gun as the only method of coping.

Chris Albert, DVM

Lebanon Junction, Ky.