Wolves hadn’t been spotted in Oregon for seven decades until one was spotted in the John Day region in 1999. Nine years later, the first breeding pack was confirmed in Union County. Now Oregon’s population totals 25 confirmed wolves, with the most recent pup born in last month. Controversy quickly followed the animals into the state, as the packs began picking off ranchers’ cattle for food. The debate over whether to preserve or to kill the creatures is a battle played out at state and local levels.
The controversy is similar to those in other western states. Idaho issued permits this year to hunt wolves, resulting in around 200 kills. And Washington, home to five wolf packs, just confirmed it will only take wolves off the endangered species list if it manages to confirm 15 successfully breeding pairs for three years straight. That announcement has been met with criticism from ranchers and hunters.
With one of Oregon’s wolves now roaming into California, these controversies may soon spread to one more western state.
How do wolves affect you? Should ranchers be compensated when their cattle are killed by wolves? How many wolves is too many?
- Cassandra Profita: OPB’s Ecotrope blogger