Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ranchers see conspiracy in big elk herds

Butte Valley rancher Bert Holzhauser said he believes state and federal wildlife agencies have been involved in a multi-year plan to build up elk herds in anticipation of expanding wolf populations. He said he's counted up to 300 elk, a favored food for wolves, on his property. Holzhauser said the elk have destroyed fences, crops and other property at his ranch and predicted, "It won't be long before they're all over the valley." As wolf populations increase, which he and others believe is inevitable under present policies, Holzhauser predicted they will kill elk and deer and "then they're going to start working on our livestock." Holzhauser was among several Butte Valley people urged to form a citizens group that can require local, state and national government agencies to work with them when developing plans affecting their lands and livelihoods during a meeting last week at Dorris City Hall. Dorris is about 5 miles south of the Oregon border on Highway 97, between Klamath Falls and Weed, Calif. The meeting was organized because of concerns aired by ranchers and farmers about damage caused by increasing numbers of elk and fears about the long-range impacts of wolves. Before and after the informal meeting, several Butte Valley ranchers said they have seen OR-7, a wolf that left a pack in northeastern Oregon, and other wolves in Klamath, Modoc and Siskiyou counties. At the meeting, Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey and Liz Bowen and Mark Baird, president and vice president of the Scott Valley-based Protect Our Waters, urged Butte Valley residents to work together to challenge and, if necessary, oppose regulatory agencies. "We're standing up and defending them because our way of life is being threatened," Lopey told a group of about 50 people. "I'm one of those sheriffs who believes there's still a Constitution."...more

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