This is new: In a planning commission hearing in Wallowa County last week, a landowner who wants to develop a bed and breakfast on farmland promised not to call wolves to the area.
The La Grande Observer * recently reported that Diana and James Hunter are facing numerous objections to their bed and breakfast proposal because of their close ties with pro-wolf environmentalists.
The 16-acre property in question lies along the so-called “wolf highway” in northeast Oregon near Joseph.
And the couple proposing the development hosted a wolf tour group with the environmental group Oregon Wild last summer. Neighbors and ranchers are protesting, saying they’re worried that the new B&B guests would try to call in or attract more wolves to the area.
The planning commission was divided on the issue, voting 3-3 with one abstention on approval of a conditional use permit for the development. Then commission voted unanimously to hand the issue over to the Wallowa County Commission.
From The Observer:
“Diana Hunter testified that their intent is to provide lodging for no more than four people at a time; there would be no camping and no hosting of tour groups. She also said that she would not condone nor encourage calling in wolves.
Wallowa County rancher Todd Nash objected to the proposal because the Hunters’ have hosted members of Oregon Wild at the Daggett Lane property and their current business on Alder Slope outside of Enterprise, Barking Mad Bed and Breakfast.
‘I don’t have a problem with people trying to make money,’ Nash said, ‘but Oregon Wild has spent a considerable amount of time at Diana’s on Alder Slope and they are suing Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; two other ranchers and I are filing as interveners along with Oregon Cattlemen in the suit.’”
There were other concerns raised about the development too, including the potential for the B&B to clash with neighboring farms and ranches and erode the county’s agricultural economic base.
But the case flags an interesting new controversy: Ranchers turning against potential wolf tourism for fear of bringing more wolves into their neighborhood.
Rob Klavins, a wolf advocate with Oregon Wild, said he sees a lot of potential for wolf tourism in the Wallowa County area.
“At a time when Wallowa County is struggling with high unemployment and a lack of new investment, it would be quite stunning if the Hunters were shut down because anti-wildlife activists blocked their business permit,” he said in an e-mail.
* Initially, I incorrectly cited the The Wallowa County Chieftain as the source of this story. It came from Katy Nesbitt at the La Grande Observer. Apologies.