Protesters demand 'Zero Tolerance'

Mitch Lies/Capital Press Eastern Oregon residents protest against government policy that protects wolves April 5 at the Oregon Capitol in Salem.

By MITCH LIES

Capital Press

SALEM -- About two dozen Eastern Oregon residents, including several ranchers, converged on the Oregon Capitol April 5 calling for the removal of wolves from Oregon.

"You can't manage wolves," protester and Wallowa County Commissioner Paul Castilleja said. "They need to be removed completely."

"I don't know how you're going to manage them," Enterprise, Ore., rancher and protester Don Tippett said. "You can't manage a predator without getting rid of them."

The Wolf Free Oregon protesters donned yellow shirts purporting "Zero Tolerance for Wolves" and carried signs proclaiming "Protect Our Children. No Wolves in Oregon," and "Wolves Are at Your Door."

The protesters gathered on the steps of the Capitol and with bullhorns shouted slogans, such as "get the ESA out of the USA" and "the Canadian wolf is an invasive species" and "save Oregon ranchers."

The Wolf Free Oregon policy of removing all wolves from Oregon is in contrast to the official position of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, which is lobbying lawmakers to relax state wolf policy and create a program to compensate ranchers for livestock losses caused by wolves.

Under Oregon's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, ranchers are restricted from using lethal methods to protect livestock from wolf predation, even if catching a wolf in the act of killing livestock.

Tic Moore, in Salem to testify on behalf of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, said he agreed in principle with the protesters' position.

"I think deep down, (removing wolves) would be the best solution, but that's not going to happen, not in today's political environment," Moore said.

"Wolves are here to stay and we're going to have to learn how to live with them," he said.

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