Weekday Wrap: Desperate to protect livestock from wolves, Oregon’s ranchers look for nonlethal tools

By OPB staff (OPB)
April 28, 2023 7:56 p.m.

Stories you may have missed from staff reports and our news partners around the region.

A federal grant aims to help Oregon ranchers use nonlethal methods to deter wolves

With support from a federal grant, ranchers across Oregon are testing non-lethal tools to protect livestock from wolves. Desperate for some effective solutions, the ranchers are experimenting with quicker removal of carcasses that attract predators, flashing lights that drive wolves away and an old-school technique called fladry — strips of red fabric hung on fences that flap in the wind and scare away startled wolves. Last July, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded a $100,000 grant to the nonprofit Western Landowners Alliance to explore non-lethal wolf deterrents. Ranchers are eager to put the money to work. “Last year was just hell,” said Tom Birkmaier, a fourth-generation rancher in Wallowa County who lost 20 head of cattle — seven of which were confirmed as wolf depredations. (Sierra Dawn McClain/Capital Press)

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It’s official: An Oregon peak will now be known as ‘Mount Halo’

One of Oregon’s peaks has a new name, “Mount Halo,” that draws inspiration from Kalapuya Chief Halito, whose village was 20 miles west of the mountain. For decades, the 4,200-foot peak located about 35 miles southeast of Eugene was known as Mount Swastika. About a year and a half ago efforts began to change its name. David Lewis, an assistant professor of anthropology and ethnic and Indigenous studies at Oregon State University, and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, suggested the name Mount Halo. Lewis said while some people have defended the swastika as a universal symbol for many cultures, its more recent associations are troubling. “The symbol really has negative connotations from World War II, and it’s use as a symbol of fascism,” Lewis said. “And so we need to at times revisit names that have been given to the land, and to rivers, and towns, and maybe replace those with things that have more resonance with today’s society.” Oregon’s Geographic Names Board approved the name change last year, but it didn’t become official until April 13, when the U.S. Board of Geographic Names approved it. Mount Halo takes effect immediately. (Brian Bull/KLCC)

Judge refuses to dismiss cases, rails against failure of public defender system

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A Jackson County judge considered nearly 20 motions Thursday from defendants seeking to dismiss their cases due to lack of court-appointed counsel. Their crimes ranged from menacing to sexual abuse. The judge, Benjamin Bloom, dismissed none of the cases, keeping most defendants in jail. Three defendants were released but are due back in court. Like other parts of the state, the county is experiencing a shortage of public defenders as many of them have hit their case limits, as outlined in their contract with the Office of Public Defense Services. Unlike prosecutors, who are state employees, public defenders in Oregon operate under a contract that sets annual limits on caseloads. “You have the right to have counsel, and you don’t have one, and that’s a failure,” Bloom said. “It’s just plain and simple a failure. We’re going to work with the system to see what’s available.” (Kevin Osphal/Rogue Valley Times)

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Providence accused of firing nurse for raising concerns about patient safety

Nurse Ben Hoshour was working the overnight shift at Providence Portland Medical Center during the pandemic when a patient died of cardiac arrest while being transported to discharge. That led Hoshour to send a frustrated email to two coworkers — which in turn led to his firing six days later, according to a lawsuit he filed in Multnomah Circuit Court on April 26. The suit centers on allegations that Hoshour faced retribution over complaints he made about unsafe staffing. The lawsuit comes as Oregon lawmakers consider a bill to beef up nurse staffing ratios in hospitals, which recently generated a compromise sparking health system support. Providence Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit. (Nick Budnick/The Lund Report)

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Evictions in Oregon increased after end of pandemic protections

Oregon’s pandemic eviction protections have expired, but the challenges for renters are far from over. The number of people being evicted in Oregon is higher than before the pandemic rocked the personal finances of most renters — and experts say the number of people being displaced from their homes, with or without a legal eviction, could be even higher. Between the pandemic’s onset and last October, state and federal officials enacted a smattering of policies designed to slow or stop evictions. In the first few months, eviction filings in the state dropped from around 1,500 a month to less than a third of that, according to data compiled by Evicted in Oregon, a research group at Portland State University. Recently, though, eviction filings have been creeping back up. (Zach Demars/The Bulletin)

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Stories you may have missed from staff reports and our news partners around the region.
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