Speaking for the Voiceless
On May 19th, I testified in front of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on wolves in Oregon. The Commission listened to hours of public testimony from conservation-minded Oregonians who asked the agency to protect and restore Oregon's fragile wolf population.
Chairman Finley and Commissioners, thank you for being here today and providing the opportunity to hear public comments. My name is Gaby Diaz and I’m here today to speak on behalf of the voiceless.
Last September, I encountered my first wild wolf tracks near Crater Lake National Park. In the middle of a rusty, dirt road there were a set of five large wolf prints headed up the way to a grove of pines. While the prints were old and dusty, I couldn’t help but imagine what this lone wolf was doing, and where he was going once he disappeared into the trees.
I wondered what his life was like on the Oregon landscape in the fall of 2016.
With only 109 others of his kind spread out across hundreds of thousands of acres of land, I imagined he felt alone, and maybe longed to see a familiar face. In thinking about the harsh winter months that followed, what would happen if his hunger got so great he had no choice but to kill a calf? What if he had a mate not too far from that dusty road, and pups playing innocently nearby? What price would he have to pay to feed and protect himself and his family?
Those who sit before me and stakeholders in the crafting of this Plan have determined that price - and it is death.
Death, because they place a higher value on ungulates to hunt and eat than another animal’s right to live. Death, because full market value compensation for a dead cow isn’t enough. Death, because the fear living in balance with the wolf and wildlands they inhabit.
I’m here today to speak on behalf of those wolves, the ones who face persecution more than any other creature in this state.
I implore you, Commissioners, to create more conservation funding options for grey wolves under the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan so that someday future generations will have the same experience I did. I am not a hunter nor do I have a hunting license, however, I would be more than willing to pay a conservation fee to see wolves thrive in Oregon.
Those wolf tracks were a testament of strength, perseverance, and a willingness to live. They deserve to be here too.