Ranchers face complex mix of federal, private land
By MATTHEW WEAVER
SPOKANE -- Representatives of the Washington Cattlemen's Association and Stevens County Cattlemen's Association will talk about wolves and their impact on grazing during a seminar at the upcoming Spokane Ag Expo.
WCA Executive Vice President Jack Field and Stevens County cattlemen's spokesperson Jamie Henneman will present a seminar at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in the Shades Conference Room at the DoubleTree Hotel, 322 N. Spokane Falls Court in Spokane.
Field hopes to include ranchers to share their experience with wolves, including Bill McIrvin of Laurier, Wash., and Jeff Dawson and Ted Wishon of Colville, Wash.
Field said grazing that takes place on both private and public land makes management decisions complex. He saw that in the case of the Wedge Wolf Pack. State officials ultimately killed the problem pack in September to stop predation on livestock from the Diamond M Ranch, owned by McIrvin and his father.
People operate under the mistaken assumption that the wolf activities and predations occurred on public land when some were on private land, Field said.
"Right now, impacted stakeholders want to get the wolves recovered and delisted" as an endangered species, Field said. "We want to get management on the ground where we can have sound ungulate management and sound predator management."
Wolves are considered endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington and managed by the state in the eastern one-third.
Field said the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife needs a good idea of ungulate populations, including natural mortality, hunter harvest estimates, calf survival and the number of predators an area can support.
"If they don't have the protein on the landscape to consume, then they're going to eat livestock, plain and simple," Field said.
The Stevens County association recently criticized the department for not having that sort of information.
Field hopes to find budget resources for the department to conduct surveys. He noted that in the wolf plan, reduced wildlife ungulate populations are also triggers for reducing wolf pack sizes.
Field said wildlife managers need information to make decisions to benefit all members of the community.
"It's got to be good for the ungulates, stakeholders and the wolves," he said. "We're all in this thing together, whether we like it or not."