Predator problem? Call your local sheriff FIRST

Cattlemen urge public to call law enforcement for wolf, cougar concerns

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) is urging Eastern Washington residents that are experiencing problems with predators to call their local sheriff first, before calling the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW.)

SCCA notes that the local sheriff has a mandate to protect persons and property, unlike WDFW who is managing wildlife as its priority. WDFW will often fault the public or the landowner for not doing enough to prevent predator attacks instead of managing aggressive wildlife. The difference in perspective has led to some questionable actions by WDFW, according to the cattlemen.

“In the recent incident in Stevens County over Memorial Day weekend, a man was forced to shoot a wolf that threatened his daughter and himself while they were hiking. WDFW did not notify the local sheriff of this incident. When WDFW did share information with the sheriff’s office, the names of those involved were redacted. The agency also suggested the man didn’t need to defend himself and downplayed the seriousness of the situation. This is not acceptable,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “There have also been incidents where WDFW is confirming and then later denying that livestock injuries were caused by wolves.  Other predator issues, like cougars, are also not being fully addressed.”

Nielsen noted that the Stevens County and Ferry County Sheriff’s Offices now have a special deputy dedicated to working on predator issues, giving residents an extra resource that based in the community. Special Deputy and Wildlife Specialist  Jeff Flood has been hired by Stevens and Ferry Counties to address predator issues.

“In our experience, local law enforcement has always been behind the people in this county and is most interested in their safety and welfare. If we don’t involve our sheriff in all predator incidents, we are removing accountability for WDFW,” said Nielsen.

In addition to providing accountability, the local sheriff can ensure that an accurate record of an incident is being created for local law enforcement, according to Stevens County/Ferry County Special Deputy Flood.

“If the public doesn’t call the sheriff’s dispatch first, then no local record of a predator incident is being created. Having an accurate record available for law enforcement is important for the sheriff’s department to protect public safety,” Deputy Flood related.

Flood said residents with any predator concerns, including wolves, should call the Stevens County dispatch at 684-2555 or Ferry County dispatch at 775-3132. Residents of either county can also call 911 and ask for a sheriff’s deputy to respond. Flood can also be contacted directly at 680-6431 or via email: jflood@stevenscountywa.gov.

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2019 SCCA Banquet coming up Feb. 9

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! The SCCA banquet is coming up on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Colville Community College. Social hour at 5pm, Prime Rib dinner at 6pm. Tickets are $30 per person. Don’t miss out!

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NEWA Fair Fat Stock sale hits record

Over $180,000 raised for local youth

A youth livestock sale sponsored by the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) recently put over $180,000 in the pockets of youth exhibitors at the Northeast Washington Fair, setting a new record for sales. The 2017 sale logged in at $131,000, making for a nearly $50,000 increase.

A number of market weight animals were featured at the 2018 sale, including 40 beef, 68 swine, 15 sheep, 10 goats and two rabbits.

The annual event managed by SCCA allows youth showing their market weight animals at the fair to sell them during the event to both businesses and private buyers.

SCCA President Justin Hedrick said SCCA supports the event every year by organizing the sale, contracting with an auctioneer and doing the bookkeeping for the sale. He said the event encourages youth to think about their future in the livestock industry.

“Showing an animal at the fair takes months of hard work and preparation. These kids really have to invest their time to do a good job. Being able to sell the animal at the fair shows them that hard work pays off,” said Hedrick.

Hedrick said the sale wouldn’t be a success without the support from the community.

“We had over 80 buyers this year that made the event successful by showing up and purchasing the animals,” said Hedrick. “Making a new record for sales this year is great and we really appreciate the support from the community.”

 

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SCCA increases reward for info on cattle deaths

Reward leading to conviction now at $15,000

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association recently increased the reward amount they are offering for information that leads to a conviction of those responsible for shooting, killing and maiming cattle in Stevens County. Since cattlemen in Stevens County began to experience consistent wolf attacks in 2012, cattle have been the target for malicious opportunists who are shooting cattle while they are grazing near a public roadway. The animals are often shot at random and left to die. SCCA suspects the attacks are being carried out by those who may be upset about environmental issues, including the current conflict with wolves. An anonymous supporter from Western Washington recently donated $10,000 towards the reward in an effort to catch those responsible.

“We have been running a reward ad for the last several years to try and catch those who are responsible for this,” said SCCA President Justin Hedrick. “No matter how you feel about wolves or any cattle related issue, it is cowardly and cruel to take it out on an animal.  We are working with local law enforcement on this issue and have accepted the donation to increase the reward amount.”

Hedrick said SCCA will pay out $15,000 a year for information leading to a conviction related to the cattle deaths. Those with information regarding the attacks on cattle are encouraged to call the Stevens County or Ferry County Sheriff’s offices or call SCCA directly at 680-3497.

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SCCA Banquet Feb. 10

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association will hold their annual social night and banquet on Sat., Feb. 10 at the Colville Community College located at 985 S. Elm in Colville. Tickets for the event are $30 per person and include a prime rib dinner. Social hour for the event starts at 5pm, dinner is at 6pm.

Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association is a local, independent organization working for family ranches in Stevens County. In recent years, SCCA has engaged in a number of issues affecting cow-calf producers including working as an advocate for sound public land management on the Colville National Forest. SCCA has sponsored billboards in the area calling for responsible public land management, including the “Log It, Graze It or Watch It Burn” billboard in Colville during 2015. SCCA has also been at the forefront of the wolf issue, working to help producers who have lost livestock to wolves and calling attention to situations where domestic animals were attacked by wolves.

For more information, visit www.stevenscountycattlemen.com.

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Stevens County Cattlemen Annual Business Meeting Dec. 2

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard guest speaker

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association will hold their annual business meeting on Sat. Dec. 2 at the Stevens County Ambulance Shack in Colville at 4pm. The organization is hosting R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard as a guest speaker for the event. The Ranchers and Cattlemen’s Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) is a national, independent organization that represents thousands of U.S. cattle and sheep producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA’s membership consists primarily of cow-calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and feedlot owners. Its members are located in 47 states, and the organization has many local and state association affiliates from both cattle and farm organizations. Various main street businesses are also associate members of R-CALF USA.

R-CALF has recently launched a legal effort in the federal courts to bring back Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef products to ensure that consumers can make informed choices about where their beef is coming from. R-CALF USA is also leading the cattle industry’s effort to clarify and enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act by banning packer ownership of livestock as well as working on trade issues on behalf of U.S. cattlemen.

Following Bullard’s presentation, SCCA will hold elections for its Board of Directors and officers, as well as addressing any business items. For more information, call SCCA President Justin Hedrick at 680-3497 or email stevenscountycattlemen@gmail.com

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Removal of one Sherman Pack wolf doesn’t address damage

 

Long term costs for ranch family high

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife removed one wolf from the Sherman Pack late last month after the pack had killed or attacked four cattle within a year, per departmental guidelines. The affected rancher has non-lethal deterrent methods in place, including consistent human presence by five cowboys employed by the producer. WDFW is now waiting to see if there will be additional kills before removing more wolves.

While the death of the calves from the Sherman Pack has an immediate impact to the ranch family, there are also long-term impacts that are often not considered. For the Sherman pack, while only four wolf depredations have been confirmed, the total number of attacks is at nine and there are other costs.

SCCA President Justin Hedrick noted that when wolves start attacking cattle herds, the presence of wolves has negative impacts on herd health including cows that don’t breed during the summer and reduced weight gain due to stress.

“The rancher feels the impact of an event like a wolf depredation long after the killing occurred, because it means instead of the cattle being able to benefit from the food available out on the range, they are stressed out all the time,” Hedrick said. “This means our animals will come into the fall thinner and need more feed to make it through the winter because they weren’t able to get all the benefits from summer pasture. That will increase winter feeding costs for the ranch, which can be hard to afford.”

In addition, the breeding cycle for cattle is interrupted and some cows may not become pregnant with a calf that will bring revenue to the ranch in the coming year.

“A lot of folks may be thinking that being out a calf or two isn’t such a big deal, but there are impacts far beyond the cost of just that animal,” Hedrick said. “When wolves start attacking a cattle herd on a regular basis, the hardships for the ranch continue into the next year or more. That’s an impact some outfits just can’t handle.”

In addition, with Washington now home to over 20 wolf packs, the negative impacts to deer and elk populations are bound to become evident. Some groups, like the Colville Tribe, are taking proactive measures to protect their ungulate populations by expanding the area its members can hunt wolves.

“We know ranches have a hard time recovering from wolves, but deer and elk populations are taking a hit too,” Hedrick commented.

SCCA is advocating for a regular reduction in wolf pack sizes and quick removal of wolves that are preying on domestic livestock. For more information, visit http://www.stevenscountycattlemen.com

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The Merciful Bullet

This essay has recently been submitted by SCCA as a “Letter to the Editor” to newspapers throughout the state on behalf of our member Len McIrvin. His letter highlights the tremendous loss ranchers in Northeast Washington are facing due to out of control wolf populations.

Merciful bullet photo

A mother cow stands near her dead calf in a grazing area in Stevens County. This sight has become increasingly common in Northeast Washington that now has at least 15 wolf packs.

The Merciful Bullet

 

As I looked into the dark, pain filled, pleading eyes of the calf lying on the ground in a dense thicket, many thoughts flashed through my mind. This had been a strong, healthy heifer calf (in human terms, she would have been a 5 or 6  year old girl-halfway between birth and puberty, with-hopefully-her whole life ahead of her)

As I looked at the calf’s ripped and torn, blood-soaked body; with her shoulder ripped from it’s joint, her hindquarters and her back and upper leg deeply punctured and lacerated with dozens of wolf bites – I had to ask myself, “Why?”     Why is this becoming a common place event for cattlemen and sheepmen all over the West as they see their herds ravaged by wolves?

The mother cow mournfully bellows to her unmoving, fatally wounded calf. Her udder is swollen with milk but is never again to be suckled by her baby. Showing her love and concern, the mother cow stands watch over her calf all day long; refusing to leave the area where it was attacked by wolves. Her grief-stricken cries haunt me as she continues to call to her dying baby.

Once again I ask myself “Why?” Why this terrible waste to satisfy the desire of a few people who just hope to hear a wolf howl?

I couldn’t help but think “Why” once again as the Fish and Wildlife Officer asked my grandson if he could dispatch the victim, stating that he would then transport the body to the dump. What a waste of a healthy, young calf to end up in that place where she will rot or be eaten by scavengers.

I looked again at those dark, pain filled, and pleading eyes of the calf as my grandson compassionately placed the Merciful Bullet between them. Even though this is an experience I have lived through over 100 times, I still cannot accept this merciless killing of our herd by wolves.

Wolves kill whatever they want to kill, but death by wolves is slow, and horrible, and a long time coming. In the case of this calf, she could have lived for days, or lived until the wolves came back and started eating her alive. With tears in my eyes, I am asking all the good friends, neighbors, and citizens in our area, state, and nation for help in ending this situation.

God has said He put man on earth to have dominion over the animals. For those of you who believe there is a Lord, you must assume this responsibility and demand that this terrible carnage ends and that our predators are managed to the point that our herds and flocks, our pets, and our wonderful herds of game animals can survive.

There are only 3 factors involved in controlling the population density of wolves:

  1. The first factor is disease and parasites, which invariably come when wolf population reaches its saturation point. (these are transmittable to humans)
  2. The second factor is starvation. The starvation factor kicks in at the point when there is no food source available. At this point, they become cannibalistic and start eating each other, thereby controlling their own population.
  3. The third factor and the most viable and effective population control of wolves is man; but in today’s political correctness, man has been taken out of the equation. This is the scenario we are facing today.

As a cattleman who has been involved with cattle all my life-nearly 3/4 of a century, I am asking for your help as we deal with the consequences of an exploding wolf population. Local control is the only answer. Let’s do everything possible to assure that each County Sherriff has complete control and is totally in charge of all the wolf predation that affects his citizens and their property.

Len McIrvin, Partner

Diamond M Ranch

Laurier, WA 99146

 

 

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SCCA Awards 2017 Scholarship

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association recently awarded Julie Huguenin a $300 scholarship as part of the organization’s annual scholarship program.  The scholarship is awarded to either SCCA youth members or relatives of a current SCCA member who completes an application sharing their participation in the industry and outlining their future academic goals. SCCA is active in supporting local youth not only through the scholarship program, but also through supporting the Fat Stock Sale at the Northeast Washington Fair and at other events. For more information, visit http://www.stevenscountycattlemen.com

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Grazing starts on Colville National Forest

Cattlemen follow agency-approved grazing plans

The start of the 2017 grazing season on the Colville National Forest (CNF) started June 1, allowing ranchers with grazing agreements to turn out their cattle on various portions, or allotments, of the forest. Now that the season has begun, the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association feels it is important to clarify the misinformation about cattle grazing on federal land and remind the public what requirements ranchers must meet during the grazing season.

For instance, although wolves may be present in some areas of the CNF, cattlemen do not automatically have wolf information, like collar data, available to them as part of their grazing lease.  While the grazing agreement between a ranch and the CNF does include many details, it does not include wolf information. In addition, the summer grazing plan must be approved by CNF staff that oversee a variety of specifics, including where salt blocks and water tanks can be placed, pasture rotation, fencing, road access and other matters.

Each permit, or allotment, has also been through a rigorous National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review before cattle can be turned out on the allotment. The NEPA addresses such issues as recreational use of the land, water quality issues and other items of potential concern.

“Our ranchers are working with grazing professionals in order to develop their grazing plan for the season and these plans must be approved by the federal agency before cattle are turned out,” said SCCA President Justin Hedrick. “We know the public doesn’t understand how many regulations the cattleman has to meet in order to graze that land. Our ranchers on public lands are responsible, diligent and under federal supervision.”

In addition, ranchers are not required to sign agreements with state agencies , like the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, in addition to their agreement with the CNF.

By working with the federal government to provide seasonal grazing on the CNF, local ranch families are helping to reduce fuel loads for wildfires while paying their grazing fees and contributing to the local economy.

“We are proud of the job our ranch families do on the CNF. We enjoy and appreciate having federal lands in our area and we want to ensure they stay healthy and available for public use,” said Hedrick. “We believe the multi-purpose designation of the CNF is a benefit to our area and our ranch families help ensure that goal is met.”

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