A “no-kill” wolf ban in Oregon has challenged farmers — who had, in the past, a far easier solution to deal with wolves attempting to dine on their herds of livestock — to come up with novel ways to protect both species without lethal force.
The no-kill wolf ban has been in place in Oregon for a little over a year, after an incident during which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife disclosed plans to shoot two animals in the Imnaha wolf pack — and a local conservation group sued, citing the Endangered Species Act as grounds to object.
When the Oregon Court of Appeals became involved, a compromise in the form of the no-kill wolf ban was reached to protect both wolves from death, as well as the livestock on which they are prone to chomp.
The no-kill wolf ban does not extend to wolves actively in the process of killing livestock like cattle, but ranchers have still worked to find another way to discourage the species from attacking their herds.
Rob Klavins of the advocacy group Oregon Wild says that with the no-kill wolf ban in place, the relative ease of shooting wolves is eliminated as an option and ranchers have to seek other means.
Klavins adds that the new system has enabled wolf populations to rebound — but cattle deaths are not on the increase either, proving that the no-kill wolf ban is not necessarily a risk to livestock:
“Once the easy option of killing wolves is taken off the table, we’ve seen reluctant but responsible ranchers stepping up … Conflict is going down. And wolf recovery has got back on track.”
One person not entirely pleased with the no-kill wolf ban is Wallowa, Oregon rancher Dennis Sheehy. Sheehy, who says the measure has “really upset people around here,” tells press that ranchers are very heavily limited when it comes to protecting their cattle from wolf packs.
Fellow Wallowa County cattle rancher Karl Patton is also less than enthused about the system of bells, alarms and other non-lethal measures in place after the no-kill wolf ban. Believing shooting the entire pack is the only sure-fire method to prevent cattle attacks, Patton explains:
“It’s frustrating, more than anything, because we have our hands tied … You can kill a man (who) comes into your house to rob you. Wolves are more protected than people.”
By 2012, the no-kill wolf ban seemed to be working — wolves in Oregon grew in number from 46 from 29.