Thursday, October 6, 2011

Imnaha Wolves Get at Least a Temporary Pardon

[Edited 10/7/11--added links and information about program costs and insignificant # of cattle deaths due to wolves.]
Targeted Alpha Male after ODFW collaring, and etc. (Adorable ear-tags, pretty "wild," eh?)

Back on September 30, 2011, The Baker City Herald printed a well received editorial on ODFWs order to kill the alpha male and a youngster in the Imnaha wolf pack--Oregon's first pack since the wolf's extermination by government agents and ranchers in the first half of the last century. As these are two of apparently four remaining members of a pack that once numbered 16, State Wolf Coordinator Russ Morgan admitted that it could mean the end of a viable pack. Oregon Wild's Conservation Director, Steve Pedery, was quoted by AP as putting it more bluntly:
"This is really a kill order on the pack. It is very unlikely the mother and her pup will survive the winter . . . . They really have little hope of bringing down a deer or elk by themselves."

For the second time in 6 months, in unusual acts of compassion and good sense for a north east Oregon paper in wolf country, the Herald actually suggested not killing wolves that had killed livestock, recommending a temporary "pardon" instead. Yesterday afternoon, an Oregon appeals court, at the request of Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Oregon Wild, granted that temporary pardon.

In a nutshell, the petitioner's motion seeks a review of whether the interpretation of the State's Wolf Plan, as codified in Oregon Administration Rule OAR 635-110-0010(6)-(8), that was used to justify the recent kill order, violates the state's own Endangered Species Act. An explanation of the reasons for the filing of the motion to stay the execution, can be found here. For more information on the motion, and the granting of the stay, see the press release here.

Cascadia Wildlands has also, in an informative alert sent out today, stated that:
Yesterday's court order prevents the state from killing the two wolves until the court can fully consider our case challenging the legality of the agency's wolf killing program. You can read more about this news in the Oregonian and Blue Mountain Eagle, as well as in our press release. In addition to making an emergency donation to our wolf campaign and lawsuit, please take a moment to take action by sending Governor Kitzhaber a personalized auto letter demanding protection for Oregon's wolves.

Targeted Imnaha Pack; Alpha female left, targeted juvenile 2nd from left, targeted Collared Male, 2nd from right, remaining puppy on right--ODFW Photo

A common theme, complaint if you will, that runs through the criticism surrounding the kill order, and past killings of the Imnaha wolves, expressed by both wolf advocates and objective observers, is that wolf recovery has always depended upon, if not good will, then at least an honest attempt by ranchers to employ non-lethal measures to protect their livestock. While some ranchers have begun to institute these measures, others seem to be begging the wolves to kill their unattended livestock, so that they can gain sympathy and use the ensuing political pressure to make the State eliminate the pack. If the kill order is reinstated by the appeals court, then they will have essentially succeeded.

One expression of this recurring theme is found in today's press release from the wolf advocate plaintiffs:
Plaintiffs in the case include groups that formerly supported the wolf plan but now believe the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is abusing its authority to kill wolves while downplaying portions of the plan that focus on conservation, education, and requiring livestock operations to adopt nonlethal alternatives to shooting wildlife.

Another articulate, more to the point voice, can be found in Baker City resident Suzanne Fouty's letter [third letter] in last night's Herald (A new approach with wolves):
However, despite these efforts [to educate ranchers and Mr. Nash in proper husbandry and non-lethal measures], Mr. Nash, the ranching community, and land management agencies have done little to prevent conflicts. Given their refusal to be proactive, ODFW’s decision to kill these wolves, at the same time expecting the public to “compensate” Mr. Nash for his loss, is absurd. He should not be compensated and the wolves should not be held accountable for poor animal husbandry.

The AP article mentioned earlier states that
He [Nash] was not using nonlethal controls such as flagging and electric fencing but did have a range rider checking the cattle.

Nash was visiting a new grandchild in California when he got the call . . . .

So who's watching the cows? My understanding is the wife has a day job and that the "rider" is hopelessly trying to cover hundreds of thousands of rugged acres that make up several grazing allotments with some 7000 head of cattle. Sources and press reports reveal that ODFW sends the location data on the collared wolves to the rider and ranchers at least twice daily, and yet the allegedly killed calf was largely consumed when found, and the collared wolf had returned to the scene over a period of time. Where were the Nash's? Where was the rider?

I suspect that the reality is that some, if not most, ranchers, like many of us, resist change. They like the ways they slouched into after helping to exterminate the wolf, i.e., put the cows out in the Spring and hope they drift back in the Fall. They, like many business enterprises, prefer to externalize their costs to the larger society. That way their cows get to mow down life giving riparian areas, leave their cow pies in our waterways, have the Feds, States and Counties pay for predator control and management with tax payer dollars, and to insist that we have little right to see wolves and their beneficial functions in our ecosystems. You also get to learn how to get through or over a barbed wire fence on public land without tearing up your pants or favorite shirt or blouse.

Along these same lines, wolf advocates point to the many examples of successful coexistence between livestock operators and wolves. Wally Sykes of Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, compiler of voluminous amounts of information on wolves, ranchers, and their conflicts, and who also helped support and contribute to rancher compensation plans, not to mention his efforts to save the Imnaha pack, sent in this example:

Whitney Angell Leonard’s Blog

Hey Wildlife Services, killing predators isn't the only option

Wally also presented a list of good reasons why ODFW should not kill the Imnaha pack and their Alpha male:

- This wolf has been implicated in only one confirmed and one probable depredation.
- The OWP does not require lethal removal of a depredating wolf, it allows it.
- Without the subadult, the Alpha male may not be able to successfully attack livestock.
- Removing the Alpha male destroys Oregon's first wolf pack and its only known breeding pair (the Wenaha pack is not known to have bred this year). [Since Wally wrote this ODFW says that the Walla Walla pack had at least two pups this year.]
- Without the Alpha male, the remaining pup. . . . may not survive.
- Without the Imnaha pack, efforts to develop an economic benefit from wolf presence in Wallowa County will be damaged.
- Non-lethal measures taken by the rancher involved may not be adequate to meet the recommendations of the OWP.
- This loss will be compensated by either Defenders of Wildlife or under the Oregon Compensation plan. If this proves impossible, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems will provide compensation for this loss under the same conditions as the Defenders program.
- The OWP does not envision a wolf population that does not have conflicts with livestock. The Plan realistically tries to minimize rather than eliminate such conflicts. That's why Oregon has a compensation plan.

Oregon has chosen to encourage a wolf population and the majority of its citizens support this decision. . . . .eliminating Oregon's first and most well-known pack is not the way to do it.

Concerning his statement that
The OWP does not require lethal removal of a depredating wolf, it allows it.

The following seems to confirm it:

2010 Wolf Plan; P. 51,

Table III-1. Matrix of Wolf Conflict Management Options.
31 While a species is state-listed, harassment or take is allowed only upon a finding that such harassment or take is consistent with conserving the species in Oregon.


Other Bits & Pieces of the Puzzle

ODFW, despite the fact that the calf carcass they used to justify the recent kill order had been largely consumed over a period of two or more feedings, found that the 550 pound calf had been killed by wolves rather than simply scavenged by opportunistic wolves of the Imnaha pack. Nobody witnessed the alleged killing. This is why wolf advocates refer to an alleged killing by wolves.

ODFW does not provide, in my experience, the actual reports documenting their assessments of alleged killings. When I asked for the actual reports of the reported wolf kills on the Jacobs Ranch in Baker County in 2009, they only sent a sketchy summary of the wolve's activities. Given the majority support for wolf recovery in Oregon, the least they should do is post the reports on the ODFW website.

Ranchers are often portrayed as noble, poor cowboys struggling to protect their small, traditional, family-owned ranches from the ravages of both wolves and environmentalists out to get them. That is sometimes at least partially the case, and there are many hard working people who actually own their ranches, even though hardly poor in the economic sense. The Marr Flat Cattle Co. L.L.C., managed in part by the Nash family in Wallowa County has been presented by the press in that light.

According to the Oregon Secretary of State's Business Registry, the Marr Flat Ranch has a number of principals, and Todd Nash is listed as one of two managers.

Angela Nash, who apparently is Todd's wife, has stated on Ecotrope that "
We have lost at least 36 calves to wolves. [(ODFW/USFWS say 14 [is] the number of livestock animals confirmed to be killed by the Imnaha pack in the past year and a half.)] We run on 100,000 acres. When wolves kill there is nothing left except maybe a leg or head or ribcage." "We run close to 600 head of cattle. About 400 are in wolf country. . . ."
This is 100,000 acres, 10,000 private which is where much of the killing takes place."

The other 90,000 acres are primarily YOUR public lands, wherein the state and the federal agencies grant them permits to disrupt the ecosystem for a pittance. (A flat out subsidy that degrades your public land and externalizes the costs of their use, such as destruction of wolves, to you.)

Some people are wondering what all the hullaballoo is concerning cattle predation by wolves. On a Friends of Animals web site, "Nabeki" writes:
Ok, 51,200 cows died in Oregon in 2010 from non-predation causes. (NASS 2010) This should be front page news, right? When wolves are involved in miniscule livestock losses they make the front pages of local media. So what about those 51,200 cows that weren’t killed by wolves?

ODFW is planning on killing the alpha male (pictured left) and another wolf from the Imnaha Pack, for tiny livestock losses. Yet huge numbers of cows drop dead in Oregon every year and all we hear is “crickets”.
See: 51,200 Dead Oregon Cows Not Killed By Wolves! Where’s The Media? September 28, 2011

The figures Nabeki cites come from a USDA report titled Cattle Death Loss, Released May 12, 2011, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). If you dig around in the report, you find, using the ODFW figure of 7 livestock (assume they were all cattle) killed in 2010, that cattle deaths due to wolf predation in Oregon amounts to an insignificant 0.0127% of cattle deaths from all causes. See also: Wolf Predation and Livestock Losses

Reading Angela's words, you might assume that Marr Flat is a ranch that the Nash family owns, but the business registry states that there are four principals:
Chris Buhler (absentee from California),
Allison Reed, absentee from Lake Oswego, Oregon,
Leslie Miller absentee from Los Angeles, CA
Todd Nash of 64541 Alder Slope Road in Enterprise, OR

The last two are listed as managers. with Todd Nash listed as registered agent. My understanding is that Chris Buhler is the majority interest and that he resides in California, although getting to the bottom of ownerships in many cases is problematic, at best.

When I asked Angela if "the Buhler family actually own most or all of the outfit with Todd hired as one of the managers?" she did not answer, preferring to respond with an ad hominem attack to that and my other relevant questions.

Another interesting bit of information I have received is that the Nash family "don't own any of their cows nor do they own a ranch. Todd is a hired manger for the Marr Flat cattle co., owned by the Beuhler [Buhler] family. He works on salary base plus a percentage."

So some ranchers are as most of us, subject to the whims of the economy and employment opportunities--just workers like the rest of us. Fact is, ranching is big business, often corporate, and they might be expected to get the treatment that the rest of us get, not special interest protections from the government.

Another interesting relationship:

The only rider for the huge area in question is Dan Warnock, said to be a friend of the Nash family. "Warnock has ridden the rugged country south and east of Joseph where thousands of cows graze on both private and public land."

One might expect that a rider, who is supposed to be interested in saving livestock from attack, should be a disinterested party, with no conflict of interest concerning the establishment of wolves in Oregon. I am told that the rider is also a friend of Todd Nash, manager of Marr Flat Cattle Co. L.L.C.. Interestingly, the principals of the THE MARR FLAT CATTLE ASSOCIATION are Joe and Charles Warnock.

Other Comments by Angela Nash on Ecotrope:

I asked Angela Nash many questions, the most important of which she didn't answer.

Angela: "We live with the land everyday"

I'm told Angela has a full time day job at a "mental health" clinic, god forbid.

Angela: "We haven't received a dime from you or anyone else. OR has spent 4.5 million on these wolves already which has nothing to do with us or our cattle." And: "Oregonians have spent 4.5 million dollars on the Imnaha pack alone which had nothing to do with our cattle."

When I asked ODFW what they had spent, I was told that "ODFW’s wolf budget for this year is: $378K. I’ll have to get back to you on the cost since the Imnaha pack was first detected. B-300, the alpha female of the pack, was first confirmed in Oregon in January 2008."

They have yet to get back to me after a week. This Just in. 10/9/11--In response to yesterdays reminder, ODFW just sent an email with the 2009 & 2010 figures for the State wolf budget. This is for all wolf activities which I suppose was primarily the Imnaha pack for the first one and one half year, and now on all three packs plus dispersers.

2011 $378K
2010 $350K
2009 $143K
Total spent on all packs: $871K

Oregonians do contribute through taxes to other agencies spending dollars on wolves, such as USFWS and "Wildlife Services," but those costs are spread out among tens of millions of taxpayers in other states. So, it is incredibly unlikely that "Oregonians have spent 4.5 million dollars on the Imnaha pack alone."

Another poster wrote her that: "According to the Farm Subsidy Database, your company - Marr Flat Cattle has received $231,775 in the last decade."

As for whether they "haven't received a dime from you or anyone else," with regard to the Oregon wolf program, Angela, upon further questioning, wrote:

In response to this from Ecotrope--"I'd also be interested to know whether you will be reimbursed for the $40,000 you lost to wolf predation."

Angela responded with: "No we will not be reimbursed."

When pressed Angela wrote: "We have been paid for 1 confirmed kill in 09 when in 09 we lost 20." [19 unconfirmed, I might add.]

Angela never answered many more questions, including:

whether "the other ranchers in the Imnaha pack territory [are] losing a lot of these large summer range calves" to wolves?

"Do you get just one text a day from ODFW each day about the location of the alpha, or are there more?"

"how close together you keep them?" "Were the cows on the private 10,00 acres or so grouped "close together" so you could monitor them, or were they spread out over the property?"

With reference to the non-lethal methods allowed in the Oregon Wolf Plan: Did you or your husband go out on "your" private land to use these methods when you knew that the Alpha was in the neighborhood, or were you too tired after coming home from your day job?

How can one range rider hired to take care of some 7,000 head of cattle spread out over many thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of acres, including yours and other allotments around the Salt Creek Divide, possibly be able to cover the territory? Aren't many more needed? Where was Todd? What's he doing?

Are the cows yours, or are they owned by the Marr Flat Cattle Co. L.L.C.? Principals include Chris Buhler (absentee from California?), Allison Reed, Lake Oswego, Oregon, with both Leslie Miller of Los Angeles, CA and Todd Nash of 64541 Alder Slope Road in Enterprise, OR listed as managers. Does the Buhler family actually own most or all of the outfit with Todd hired as one of the managers?

You stated that "These wolves have no real fear of people as they simply come to town and kill also." I can find no documentation of that, and I have heard from Joseph, OR that the statement is simply not true. Will you please document your statement with some verifiable source?

Angela Nash didn't answer these questions. Her cute response was:

"Your fiddle is really out of tune...Playing dumb is also very unattractive."

Oh yeah, my fiddle is out of tune, but of course I don't play the fiddle, even though I'd like to.

My response:
What is truly unattractive Angela are your ad hominem attacks, your lack of candor, and your conflicting statements concerning your claims about wolves, compensation, land and cattle ownership, and efforts at non lethal control. People drew their own conclusions as to why you refuse to answer relevant questions concerning your statements. If all ranchers, as well as hired hands like Todd, had made an honest effort to use effective non lethal control, your servants at ODFW and "Wildlife Services" would not have issued the recent kill order for the two wolves. [Actually, ODFW ordered the kill, "Wildlife Services" just aids in the effort to carry it out.- Chris] Hopefully the state [appeals court] ordered stay of execution in response to the recent request by wolf advocates for judicial review will become permanent.


See Also:


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