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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Oregon Wild's testimony at a Senate informational hearing on wolves.
The Oregon Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held an informational hearing on wolves in Oregon today. After receiving testimony from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the livestock industry, Oregon Wild delivered this message on behalf of conservation-minded Oregonians.
We gave our testimony alongside two other conservation organizations working to ensure wolf recovery in Oregon - Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity.
While there were certainly differences of opinions amongst the stakeholders at the hearing, there was a welcome change in tone from previous hearings that focused on divisiveness and (often manufactured) controversy.
Conservation is a widely held public value. So why is it suddenly controversial?
By Wildlife Advocate Rob Klavins
I am – quite literally – a card-carrying wildlife advocate. Though not everyone is as big a wildlife geek as I, I'm comfortable knowing I stand with the vast majority of Americans in valuing native wildlife.
I'm lucky to spend my days working to protect the wildlands, wildlife, and waters that play an irreplaceable role in maintaining our quality of life.
I just wish part of my job wasn't necessary.
Recent media reports on wolves continue to lack context. They also tend to lack basic math.
I'm a big fan of public radio.
When I want to hear one-sided grandstanding I go to MSNBC, Fox News, or Comedy Central. If I want weather and videos of water-skiing squirrels I watch local TV.
When I want information and intelligent discussion I tune in to NPR and PBS. That's why I was so disappointed by recent coverage of what should have been a great wolf news story.
With an ongoing campaign of misinformation and fear targeting wolves, we've said over and over again how important it is to put numbers in context (here). Not doing so inflames anti-wolf hysteria and has serious consequences.
When it comes to recent wolf news here are some important basic mathematical truths:
A year ago, Oregon's most famous wolves blazed a historic trail. Now the state stands at a crossroads.
In 1999, a wolf known as B-45 swam the Snake River and became the first confirmed wolf in Oregon in over half a century. Panicked wildlife agencies quickly decided to tranquilize the animal and send her back to Idaho by helicopter.
With a little help from the public, the state agency charged with conserving wildlife (ODFW – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) took a deep breath and charted a new course forward. That change allowed a very different story to take place exactly one year ago.
An Oregon native shares his experience with another – of the four-legged variety.
One of our most popular blog posts was the 2010 the re-telling of an encounter with wolves in Wallowa County. Since that time we've led several organized trips and heard from dozens of others from all over the country who headed out on their own to the wildlands of Northeast Oregon specifically to see wild wolves.
Though the suspension of Oregon's wolf killing program means wolf recovery is getting back on track in the Beaver State, the known population remains small, fragile, and confined to its Northeast corner.
Even in wolf country, very few folks have actually seen or even heard the wolves that make much more regular appearances in local headlines. So though few ever regret their trip(s) to some of Oregon's most spectacular landscapes, it's no surprise most folks don't see more than tracks or scat.
That's why it was so heartening to receive a report from Oregon Wild member Kelly Morgan, who saw wolves on the Zumwalt Prairie in Northeastern Oregon late last month. Here is a recounting of his story starting with his second day in search of wolves.
Executive Director Sean Stevens takes a moment to talk about how Tuesday's election results affect Oregon Wild, our issues, initiatives, and plans for moving forward.
By Sean Stevens
Executive Director, Oregon Wild
As Oregon Wild supporters and followers, you know elections matter for our environment. Policy differences at the federal and local level can have serious consequences for the health of our public lands, the purity of our drinking water, and the survival of our most threatened wildlife.
Last night's election had big implications for the wildlands, wildlife, and waters we cherish – and the outcome gives us reason to celebrate today.
But we also know our advocacy for the environment doesn’t stop after we’ve mailed in our ballot. President Obama’s reelection should remind us of the hopes we had for his presidency four years ago, and the mixed bag of environmental policies he has implemented. To achieve lasting protections for our most special places and to safeguard our natural inheritance, the real work begins now.
Putting wolves and the livestock industry in context.
A number of recent non-wolf news stories prompted us to think about the total lack of context that tends to accompany news coverage of livestock losses to wolves.
Here are some headlines you probably didn't see...but they're all true:
- 95 sheep died last week from eating poisoned grass in Idaho after their owner illegally grazed his herd in an abandoned mine (link).
- Earlier this month domestic dogs killed 44 sheep in Wyoming in a single incident. That's about the number killed in the entire state by wolves last year (link).
- 44 unattended cows were killed by trucks near Madras when they broke through a fence in September. The trucks didn't come out of it well either (link).
- Last year an Amtrak train killed 24 cows that broke through an unmaintained fence near Klamath Falls. The rancher felt entitled to compensation (link).
- Over 1,200 cows have been stolen by human thieves in Malheur County alone from 2006 - 2009 (link).
- A single storm in Montana killed over 2,250 livestock (link).
- In 2002, 600 cows died in Harney County after eating bad hay. (link)
The third annual Oregon Wild Wolf Rendezvous was a success!
Oregon is a state full of creative people with good ideas. The halls of Oregon Wild are no exception. Idle moments are a novelty and simply looking for something to do is unheard of.
Sometimes though, we get a chance to take a shot at one of those good new ideas. So it was three years ago that we brainstormed, led, and then celebrated our first ever Oregon Wild Wolf Rendezvous.
The trip generated more excitement and enthusiasm than we could have hoped for. Within hours of being announced it was filled.
At a time when wolf headlines were dominated by hysteria, conflict and killing, the event generated positive stories about wolf recovery, the benefits of wildlife conservation, and interest in learning about wolves. The trip got an extra boost when we were featured on OPB’s popular Field Guide Program. It was also – as we later reflected –a learning experience.
Want to join us in 2013?
Sign up for the Wolf Rendezvous here
In 2011, we applied those lessons and held a bigger and better trip to Oregon’s spectacular wolf country. We extended the trip. We filled it with hikes, history, and meetings with those sharing the landscape with wolves. The highlight was meeting a Nez Perce elder who shared his grandmother’s stories of living with wolves in Wallowa County more than a century before.
Shortly afterwards, one of the trip participants recounted his experience. We were all touched by his words and insights. In the next year, over 200 people contacted us and asked to join our next trip. We knew it would be hard to top the previous year’s experience, but we had to try.
Thanking an Oregon leader for standing up for wildlife.
Chances are when you were a kid someone told you “don’t forget to say your ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s”. As conservationists facing a litany of threats to our natural heritage, we can’t afford to forget to say please. However, sometimes in our haste we do forget to say thank you.
Since he took office in 1987, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio has done some great things for the environment. However, over the last several months we’ve been saying “please” a lot more than “thank you” as we’ve been at odds over his newest logging scheme.
We are still happy to give him credit when he deserves it. That’s why we were pleased for the opportunity to send the Congressman a letter thanking him for his recent stand for wildlife.
Wildlife and Wildlands intern Apple Goeckner recounts what she learned this summer while giving wolves a voice.
I am a little sad that this will be my last official blog post as the Wildlife and Wildlands intern for Summer 2012. It has been quite the busy summer for me, and I feel like I have both learned a lot and deepened my beliefs about wolves, the environment, state agencies, politics, and advocacy.