Below is a letter CPoW recently sent to the Stevens and Ferry County Commissioners to emphasize the importance of local control on the wolf issue. Last week a judge granted an environmental group’s lawsuit request to stop efforts to remove a member of the Togo Wolf Pack after repeated attacks on cattle despite non-lethal efforts to deter the wolves:
Dear Stevens and Ferry County Commissioners,
I am writing on behalf of the Cattle Producers of Washington to express our frustration and dismay at the recent court-ordered stop on the removal of a member of the Togo Wolf Pack. We feel it is important at this time to repeat our call for action from our elected officials and our support for local control of this predator.
What is happening to ranchers in Eastern Washington can easily be compared to the very serious threat of wildfire that has been increasing in likelihood every year. We recognize and appreciate the amount of effort our county governments and elected officials put out to combat this catastrophic danger. The loss of a home or business to wildfire is a terrible setback to any family. State and county officials clearly understand that although the loss may be covered by insurance, the real loss of the home or business buildings like a shop or office cannot easily be replaced. In Eastern Washington, many residents have built their own homes, working garages and shop areas—expending valuable hours and sweat that are hard to quantify in dollars. In this scenario, the entire community knows what will be lost if a home or a business goes up in flames and how difficult it will be to restart. Protecting those assets from destruction is a top priority for local governments.
We encourage you to remember our family ranches are no different. As ranching is a cyclical enterprise that experiences gains and losses on a regular basis, the only outfits that survive are built on the hard work and determination of its participants. As the wolf population continues to grow by 30 percent in Eastern Washington each year and that growth is virtually unchecked, the risk to the ranch’s key asset, its cattle, also increases. It is no coincidence that a quick glance at the state map showing the wolf pack populations resembles a fire map, with new hot spots of danger spreading across the landscape. Keeping this threat contained is not being successfully done by state and federal managers. Too often outside groups that will never experience loss due to wolf attacks are allowed to influence decisions about how many wolves we should be expected to tolerate.
Our organization recognizes that some gains have been made to bring local wolf control into the equation. It is important that we see an even greater effort from our local governments to ensure this situation does not continue to escalate as small ranching businesses go under.
It is at this time, with the courts likely delaying the removal of the Togo Wolf Pack , that we consider who should be making decision about wolf control: the communities and individuals directly impacted by the wolves or people who have nothing to lose.
CPoW is interested and willing to help further discussions about how to manage the wolf issue over the long term. We hope to see management come back to the local level where sound decisions can be made.
Scott Nielsen, President
Cattle Producers of Washington