A La Grande Observer story published June 29 titled, “ Wolves Continue to Drive Debate” by Stephan Hamway deserves a response based on facts.

In that story retired Forest Service Hydrologist Suzanne Fouty expressed the opinion that wolves would act as “security guards” for streamside vegetation by keeping the deer etc. from grazing willows and shrubs along the banks of streams to oblivion, thus allowing the shade to cool the water for the fish.

Fact No. 1, A four-inch diameter tree consumes 40 gallons of water per day. If the streams were choked with willows, etc., what water would be left for fish, particularly during the hotter late summer and early fall when flows are already low?

The story also stated that a 2006 study indicated that Oregon had enough territory to support 1,450 wolves.

Fact No. 2, According to the International Wolf Center, a wolf needs 7 pounds of food per day to flourish and reproduce. 1,450 wolves would need over 10,000 pounds per day, or over 3 million pounds per year. If their average prey weighed 150 pounds that would be over 24,000 kills per year.

Fact No. 3, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, total deer population is 33% below the management objective at 226,000 deer, according to the 2017 survey. If the wolves only preyed on deer they could easily decimate the deer population in a few years, but we all know that deer are not their only prey.

Fact No. 4, wolves are pack predators. If there are 8 to 12 hungry wolves near livestock, fladry and range riders are not going to stop them from taking livestock. Wolves are a smart predator, they know that most cattle are already habituated to stock dogs and will not initially fear the presence of wolves. The wolf has also figured out that a beef calf does not flee as fast as other wildlife.

I will now state my opinion based on fact. Increasing wolf numbers will create more predation on livestock. The Wolf Recovery Program has cost over $8 million with zero benefit other than creating a subset of bureaucrats that are employed in the program. This program in my opinion is a sick joke that has no value to the citizens of Oregon.

John Coote

Island City, Ore.

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