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Wolf-Watching Range Rider Quits

The man who garnered international attention for patrolling on horseback for conflicts between wolves and cattle in eastern Oregon, has left the job.

The image of Jason Cunningham on a horse warning ranchers about wolves was featured in newspapers around the Northwest. Film crews from as far away as Australia profiled him, too.

Cunningham started as Oregon’s first range rider in July. He quit last week. Neither he nor his boss – a Wallowa County rancher – has returned calls asking for explanation.

State officials say that his departure isn’t significant, since someone else is taking his place – and the job of mediating wolf-livestock conflict continues.

But multiple sources told OPB that Cunningham was forced out for not being anti-wolf enough.

One of the environmental groups raising money to pay the range rider’s salary — Oregon Wild — says ranchers kept Cunningham from speaking at a recent meeting the group held on wolf eco-tourism. But Oregon Wild says it still supports the range rider program.