Monday, December 19, 2011

Idaho rancher spreads word about wolves

Like an itinerant preacher, Casey Anderson has a message. The 56-year-old Idaho ranch manager was a popular speaker at ranchers' gatherings the past year: October at the Cattle Producers of Washington annual meeting in Moses Lake, Wash., and in January the Intermountain Rangelands Symposium in Twin Falls, Idaho. In May 2010, he spoke at a public symposium in La Grande cosponsored by the Oregon Cattlemen's Association. His message is simple: Wolves are coming. Get ready. "I want to show the facts and have the scientific research to back it up," he said. "That's my message. I don't have to raise my voice, yell and holler, scream and point my finger. Most of the information you get is from wildlife biologists, the Humane Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and they have their agenda. Most of the things they say are not true. That's the way I give my talk." Anderson, a Pendleton native who learned his trade in the Blue Mountains, speaks against a backdrop of anxiety and conflict as wolves spread into Eastern Oregon, reclaiming territory they haven't inhabited in 65 years. He is no Cassandra. He knows firsthand what impact wolves have on a big livestock operation. What's more, he has data to bolster his claims. Or, he has some data to suggest that wolves prey on cattle in ways researchers are just beginning to comprehend. His PowerPoint presentation consists of charts and graphs — the record of wolf and cattle movements tracked by satellite — interspersed with photographs of mutilated calves. But the study Anderson cites, and is part of, is still under way. An Oregon State University researcher involved with it cautions against reading too much into what Anderson, who runs the OX Ranch east of the Snake River, has to say. Another said he's fine with Anderson's presentation, and points out that OX Ranch owners Tim and Joe Hixon are widely recognized wildlife conservationists...more

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