October 28, 2017 (Chico, California) - December of 2011 was a trying time for ranchers in California as the infamous wolf OR-7 meandered from northeastern Oregon all the way to the border between California and Oregon. This marked the first time a wolf has been in California in 90 years. Washington and Oregon ranchers have long dealt with issues of wolf attacks on cattle and it seemed almost inevitable that it would reach Californian ranchers. On October 26th, 2017, a Lassen County rancher reported losing at least one cow to wolf attacks.
Wally Roney of the Roney Land Cattle Co. has reported losing at least five cows to wolves but, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, only one attack on October 13th has been confirmed. Roney's believes that warnings from CDFW of a GPS collared female wolf in the area of his cattle prior to the five attacks is confirmation enough.
In an e-mailed statement, CDFW Deputy Director Jordan Traverso said, “We went to great lengths to communicate with the rancher and with others in the community nearby about the presence of wolves. With this producer, we made it clear that the wolves were frequenting the site where his cows were. We offered the producer non-lethal assistance/tools. The producer declined."
The argument Roney provided against the non-lethal tools was that they would have stampeded his cattle. It seems that the only alternative that Roney can take is to move his cattle out of Lassen County; nearly 1,000 head will have to be displaced.
Ranchers in Oregon have long faced this turmoil with the Oregon Cattlemen's Association placing a 60-Day Intent to Sue against the United States Fish & Wildlife Services for their mismanagement of this predator. Washington has had similar issues with lethal takes on entire packs required such as the Smack Out Pack.
It seems that the issue has traveled from Washington to California with no sign of better management practices or a harmonious relationship between State Fish and Wildlife Services and private ranchers. One can only hope that a decision for better wolf management practices can be made quickly before the situation gets uglier than it already is.
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