Wise to lead Beef Council

Will Wise is set to take over as the new executive director for the Oregon Beef Council on Oct. 1.

Wise has been working the past four years as the national trade director for potato programs for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. He has been involved with international trade talks with foreign governments and helped finalize trade protocols with Canada, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam and other trading partners.

Prior to working for USDA, Wise was president and CEO of the Oregon Potato Commission. He worked there for nearly 20 years. Marketing, trade policy, legislative affairs and research funding were among his focus areas.

Wise has a master's degree in agricultural economics from Oregon State University, and an undergraduate degree in horticulture, also from OSU.

Wise replaces Dean Jennings, who has been serving as interim executive director since February, when Nicole Bechtel left the council.

--Mitch Lies

Marin declares ag emergency

NOVATO, Calif. (AP) -- Marin County officials have declared an agricultural emergency because of drought conditions.

The declaration allows Marin farmers and ranchers to apply for federal disaster relief funds if they are made available.

Officials say rainfall is 28 percent below average and that ranchers -- who make up the county's largest agriculture industry -- have lost 30 to 40 percent of their pastures.

The loss of pastures can force ranchers to sell livestock earlier or incur higher feed costs.

Still, county officials say federal funds may not be forthcoming because the USDA Farm Service Agency says it might only fund those ranchers or farmers who lose more than half of their pasture or crops.

Yellowstone bison rebound

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- The bison population in Yellowstone National Park continues to bounce back from a massive culling of the herd two winters ago. It's now estimated at 3,300 animals.

The summer 2009 population figure includes 2,800 adult and yearling bison and 500 calves. That's up from a total of 2,900 bison at the end of last winter.

More than 1,600 Yellowstone bison were killed in 2008 as they attempted to migrate to lower elevations in Montana in search of food.

State and federal agencies employ a capture and slaughter program against bison leaving the park to protect against the spread of brucellosis.

Montana rushes to buy wolf tags

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports a spike in people purchasing licenses to hunt wolves in the state after a judge declined to stop the hunt.

Agency spokeswoman Vivaca Crowser said 150 wolf tags were purchased Sept. 9, the same day U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy denied a request by environmentalists to halt hunts in Idaho and Montana.

She says sales have been steady since then, keeping game offices busy.

The wolf hunting season in Montana starts next Tuesday in four specific backcountry areas, and then throughout three larger management areas on Oct. 25.

Idaho's season is already under way.

Idaho and Montana plan to kill more than 20 percent of the estimated 1,350 wolves in the two states.

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