Readers of “The Tooshed” rejoice! While fondly reminiscing of my youth in Snot Creek, Oregon, I stumbled over a solution to the wolf “problem.”
I was about 10, my dad and I were talking with a neighbor, Cliff Mitchell, who lived a couple of miles to the east. Cliff’s dog had disappeared the day before and he was worried about it.
As we listened to Cliff, another neighbor, Tom Tompkins, drove up in his truck. Tom backed the truck close to us and got out. He didn’t look like his usual chipper self.
Tom walked to the back of the truck and opened the tailgate. Inside lay Cliff’s dog, neatly shot through the shoulder.
It was very quiet.
“Cliff, I shot your dog. He was chasing my sheep.”
Cliff tore his glance away from the corpse. “My dog don’t chase sheep,” he said.
Tom brightened up considerably. “Well, I guess this ain’t your dog, then.”
Tom got back in his truck, and drove off. My dad had little to add and we left.
This was the law of the land in farm/ranch communities. Any known predator skulking near livestock was fair game—as it should be.
Even in good years, ranchers have narrow profit margins. Sure, ranchers get reimbursed for livestock killed by wolves—if ranchers can prove it, and that’s a process in itself.
Having raised livestock myself, I can tell you a cow means something besides a dollar in the wallet. Wolf people accuse ranchers of insensitivity, yet wolf people themselves are generally insensitive to ranchers or the mangled livestock wolves leave behind.
The government entities responsible for re-introducing predators on the general public should be held to the same accountability as Cliff was: Keep the damn things on your property or suffer the consequences.
At the very least, the government parties involved should make a statement such as: “We give ranchers a very good deal on grazing fees. Our land has wolves on it and that’s part of the deal. We WILL compensate you for wolf damage done to cattle on our property or yours. Furthermore, if you see wolves on private property we recognize your right to shoot them as the predators they are.”
I think this is fair and equitable under the present circumstances. I don’t have anything more against wolves that I do against lions and tigers—as long as they’re not wandering the countryside looking for a livestock meal. I do have a few question/statements though:
After reading the hyperbole on both sides of the issue, my understanding is this: Wolves were mainly re-introduced because they were once a part of the ecosystem. So what? You can say the same for dinosaurs and mammoths and saber-tooth tigers and a host of other ecosystem entities.
What’s next, start looking for DNA in fossilized amber so we can create a Jurassic Park at the expense of others?
In fairness to everyone, I think the government should keep a pack of wolves close to town so townspeople who are wolves-at-large supporters can suffer the same losses a livestock owner endures.
Out of the goodness of my heart, I propose that all pet owners be reimbursed for lost pets at the going rate for cat or dog meat, just like as ranchers are reimbursed for their livestock.
Every person who feels wolves have earned a place in today’s ecosystem by right of historical presence needs to look deep into their hearts, take the title of their home and land to the nearest Indian reservation and hand it over.
Unless you’re an acute hypocrite, you must be incredibly guilt-ridden, living on land stolen from people whose historical ecosystem presence predates yours by over 10,000 years.
No need to thank me for clearing your conscience—I’m glad I could help.