Saturday, June 17, 2017

Trust between state, ranchers elusive as wolves populate N. California

Tim Hearden

More than five years after a gray wolf first set foot in California, trust between state wildlife managers and ranchers remains elusive. That much was certain at a workshop on wolf-livestock conflicts June 14, as state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials were grilled by cattle producers who perceive the agency as slow to notify landowners of nearby wolf sightings. “We are right now concerned about, one, minimizing livestock losses and two, protecting wolves,” DFW wildlife program manager Karen Kovacs told about 60 area ranchers in the fire hall at Hat Creek, about 70 miles northeast of Redding. If the state issues information about pups, for instance, some wolf enthusiasts and videographers might flock to the area to get pictures, while others might want to harm them, Kovacs said. “They’re in the middle,” she said of wildlife managers. “We try to contact people when we’ve got multiple tracks.” When Kovacs later urged the ranchers to “trust us,” several blurted out, “Well, you don’t trust us.” “You can’t believe a word the California Department of Fish and (Wildlife) says,” Lassen County rancher Joe Egen said in an interview. “They are intentionally vague with all of this. There’s a pair right now on one of our allotments. We’ve seen the tracks. “We didn’t decide until three days ago whether we were going to turn out or not,” he said, adding that he will run his cattle on his summer allotment but with a large human presence. The exchanges highlight what has been a rocky relationship between state regulators and rural Northern Californians since the December 2011 arrival of OR-7, the first known gray wolf in the state in 87 years...more

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