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The Big Bad Wolf?

Pete Springer/OPB

We all know the fairy tales of big bad wolves from Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, but how much damage does a real wolf cause in Oregon today? If you talk to Curt Jacobs he’ll say a lot. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed that a wolf (or possibly wolves) were responsible for killing 24 lambs on his property a few weeks ago. As a rancher, his livestock is his livelihood. State law says ranchers can haze a wolf that threatens their property, but anything more drastic could result in a fine of $100,000 and a year in jail. Most environmentalists think that is fair. Ranchers say they need to be able to do more.

Until this week the gray wolf was protected by the federal and state Endangered Species Act, but on May 4th they were delisted at the federal level. This basically means that now they’re just protected at the state level, and managed according Oregon’s Wolf Management Plan.

But now the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) is pushing the Oregon Legislature to change the Wolf Plan. They want it to say that a person may “take” a wolf seen “attacking, biting, molesting, chasing, or harassing livestock, herding and guarding animals, working and sporting dogs and family pets.” Bill Moore, the president of the OCA says:

Imagine a marauder came onto your property to maim, kill and steal from you; and you couldn’t do anything but yell and wave your arms. Our animals are our livelihood, our income. And we need to be able to protect them.

Environmentalists are thrilled gray wolves have returned to Oregon and believe they should be protected. On the Oregon Wild blog Rob Klavins writes:

Ultimately, it is human tolerance that will determine if wolves regain their rightful place in the Oregon landscape, or if we again show that the only animal that kills for fun and wipes out entire species walks on two legs.  Those who vilify or deify wolves may lead us to the same destination.

How much protection should wolves have in Oregon? Should ranchers be allowed to kill them to protect their property? If not, what should they be allowed to do? Are you a rancher who is worried about your livestock? What do you want to be able to do? Are you an environmentalist fighting to protect wolves? Why are they important to you?


  • Curt Jacobs: rancher who lost 23 lambs as a result of wolf kills
  • Bill Moore: President of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association
  • Suzanne Stone: Northern Rockies Representative for Defenders of Wildlife
  • Russ Morgan: Wolf Coordinator of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
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