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Cattlemen, wildlife group sponsor billboard

Groups urge calling sheriff if a predator attacks

A pair of local organizations concerned with the climbing numbers of predators in Stevens County have recently sponsored a billboard urging residents to call their local sheriff if they experience a predator attack.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, in partnership with the Northeast Washington Wildlife Group, recently sponsored a billboard along HWY 395 with the messaging, “Predator attack? Fight back! Call your local sheriff!”

SCCA President Scott Nielsen said the message is needed so citizens understand their best resource for addressing predator attacks is the local sheriff, not the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“We know that WDFW has a very different mandate than the local sheriff when it comes to public safety,” Nielsen related. “When WDFW approaches a situation where a predator has attacked or threatened domestic animals or a person, their first response has often been to blame the person for not doing enough to prevent the attack. This is a problem, especially as predators in the area are becoming more aggressive.”

Nielsen noted an elected sheriff has a mandate to protect public safety and is not quick to blame the affected person but rather how to remove or alleviate the threat.

“We have a much higher confidence in our local sheriff’s ability to recognize and respond to a public safety threat than a group of unelected agents in a wildlife-focused agency,” said Nielsen.

Northeast Washington Wildlife Group Chair John Magart said his group also lacks confidence in WDFW’s response and wants to see changes to predator management.

“Our group supports local control by the Sheriff for predator attacks because the WDFW has a history of doing nothing except chastising the victims of these attacks,” Magart noted. “In the past WDFW has been slow to respond to depredation attacks if they respond at all. The sheriff is an elected official who is responsible for public safety whereas the WDFW say they are not. The local sheriff has firsthand knowledge and local resources to take care of public safety and depredation issues in a timely fashion without rhetoric and blaming by WDFW.”

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Old Profanity Wolf Pack Needs to be Culled

SCCA disapproves of “incremental” wolf removal strategy

A recent announcement by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife that it plans to “incrementally” remove wolves from the Old Profanity Wolf pack is not being welcomed by the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association who believes the pack needs to be culled.

The Old Profanity wolf pack has attacked over 20 cattle in the last year, killing at least 13. The recent WDFW removal order from WDFW is a continuation of an effort last year to remove the pack due to its chronic pattern of attacking cattle, despite numerous non-lethal methods taken by producers.  However, WDFW only removed two wolves last year.

WDFW cites their “incremental” removal policy is done in an effort to “change the wolves’ behavior.”

However, WDFW’s efforts are actually ensuring that chronically depredating packs are never fully removed and can rebound to create more damage for ranchers, according to SCCA.

“We are having more problems than other states with wolves because we are allowing cow-killing wolves to breed,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “This ‘incremental’ approach has not worked from the beginning and is still a failed policy.”

In addition to the hardship and economic damages wolves are causing ranch families, Nielsen said the wolves are changing the behavior of other predators in the area, including bears and cougars.

“We are seeing increased numbers of bears and cougars coming down into people’s pastures and near their homes looking for an easy meal due to the increased competition from wolves,” Nielsen explained. “This situation means that if you live in rural Washington, you live in fear. You don’t go out into the woods or by rivers and meadows without something to defend yourself. You worry about your kids and pets outside. This is wrong—our residents should not have to live this way.”

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SCCA Awards 2019 Scholarships

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association recently awarded two local students with $500 scholarships to help fund their college educations. Awards were given to Josie Nielsen (left) and Larissa Sweat (right). Nielsen, the daughter of SCCA President Scott Nielsen (pictured center), plans to attend Whitworth University this fall to pursue a B.A. in Primary Education. Sweat, the daughter of SCCA Treasurer Larry Sweat, plans to continue her college education at Eastern Washington University, pursuing a B.A. in Secondary Education. SCCA provides annual scholarship opportunities for youth in the community, encouraging young people to make a difference in the world with the values and work ethic they learned from ranching.

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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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