John Clevenger’s Oct. 14 letter to the editor supporting wolves is fraught with misunderstandings about the wolf population explosion in Washington State.
After reading news reports from nearby states, Montana, Idaho and Oregon — one might wonder why anyone would want to bring these killing machines back into our forests, plains and ranchlands. No one interested in hunting elk, deer or moose would be naive enough to put their sport at risk by introducing an apex predator that has proven that it has the ability to wipe these populations out — wild game as well as domestic stock. WRONG! Our State Fish and Wildlife managers have been bullied into it by the enviros and urban politicians.
Wildlife managers estimated that 50 gray wolves would only kill one to six cows annually along with seven to 16 sheep in their state management plan. It’s too bad they didn’t check with adjacent state biologists to see what was on the wolves’ menu. Both Idaho and Montana easily exceeded these kill numbers on beef and the elk and moose populations are suffering also.
The wedge wolf pack located about 40 miles north of Colville near the Canadian border off of Highway 395 has killed 40 cattle on one ranch although the biologists have only certified 16. While a carcass may be totally consumed by wolves — unless biologists are at the kill immediately, they will not commit to what really killed the cow. (It may have died of a heart attack?) The rancher has leased grazing rights on the Colville Forest for many generations and has not had major predator kills until the imported wolves arrived with a taste for beef. The rancher fully cooperated with the state’s wolf plan — yet wolves and cattle (deer, elk and moose) are like oil and water — they don’t mix. There was a good reason our predecessors eliminated them in the past century. If you Google “Idaho wolves” you’ll see the size of these critters — 75 to 130 lbs. and they have jaws of steel — with an aggressive attitude for thrill killing.
Kudos to the game managers for following the management plan and killing the pack, legally I might add — before the wolves put the rancher out of business. I doubt though that it will help the rancher’s future as other wolves will fill the habitat void. Wolves are smart. Killing a pack, would be quite difficult for individual hunters on timbered ground. The decision to use a helicopter makes good sense — like they’ve done in Alaska. And killing from the air is dirt cheap as compared to Clevenger’s recommendation to buy the ranchers land; the state can’t afford to pay for the rancher’s losses much less buy his property.
If Clevenger is concerned for the future of our big game perhaps he should review northern Idaho’s elk population statistics and hunter successes. The wolves are eating Idaho’s elk at a rapid pace and hunters are not happy, even though they can buy tags to kill wolves. The state is losing license monies, as well as shouldering an environmental management nightmare. It’s only a short time before we ”enjoy” these killers moving to the Olympic Peninsula with the benefits they bring.
Wolf introduction has proven to be bad in all Western states, including ours. You’d think people would learn from experience. Until the city folks have a wolf chewing on their pet pooch, or their children, they’ll continue to support their version of game management which is dead wrong for rural Washington.
Bill Pickell is from Hoquiam.