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JANUARY 27, 2013 



Silence of the Cows


Our guest: John Williams

About John 

John Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rangeland Resources at Oregon State University working as a natural resources Extension agent in Wallowa County. He holds a B.S. degree in animal science and a Master of Agriculture in Animal Science, Rangeland Resources and Agricultural Resource Economics. He ranched for 15 years and has been an Extension agent for 26 years. He has lived in Wallowa County for 19 years. He lives with his wife Eileen on 10 acres where they have sheep, cattle and horses. They have two grown children.

During those years he has helped the county with several public policy issues such as the ESA listings of the listing of the Snake River Chinook Salmon and the wolf. He has helped the county develop the Natural Resource Advisory Committee which leads the effort in the county to make the best decisions possible about natural resource issues. It also works to aid the federal and state agencies in the development of appropriate policies and decisions when it involves local lands, animals or people.

For the past 5 years John has been a member of the research team studying the impacts of the presence of wolves on livestock. This multi-state study includes Oregon State University, University of Idaho, The Agricultural Research Service and 8 ranchers in both Idaho and Oregon.

Preliminary Estimates of Potential Economic Losses to Stock Growers due to the Presence of Wolves in North Eastern Oregon
READ FULL REPORT: Preliminary_Estimates_of_Potential_Economic_Losses_to_Stock_Growers.pdf
While any benefits associated with the introduction of wolves in NE Oregon are primarily nonmarket based, difficult to quantify and widely distributed among possibly millions of people who value wolves, at least some of the costs of introducing wolves in NE Oregon are market based, can be accurately estimated and are focused on the producers and the local economies to which they contribute. North Eastern Oregon includes 5 counties. The livestock producer is on the front line of the wolf/livestock conflict and the losses to the producer both increase the producer’s direct costs of doing business and reduces the revenue received in those businesses thereby negatively affecting both sides of their balance sheet. The following economic assessment is based on the assumption that the ranches are in areas where wolves have reached full occupancy and that the cattle are in areas where wolves are present through all seasons of the year.

Wolf Cattle Interaction Study

READ FULL REPORT: Wolf_Research_report_2012_October_22.pdf
The reintroduction of wolves into Central Idaho and the Yellowstone National Park and their subsequent dispersal throughout the northern Rocky Mountains has led to increased livestock depredation and conflict with livestock producers (USFW 2011). Stock growers report both direct losses as injured or killed cattle, sheep, horses, and dogs, as well as indirect livestock losses from increased stress resulting in lower conception rates, higher incidence of respiratory and other diseases, lower body condition scores, and changes in temperament resulting in more difficult trailing and handling (Kluever et al. 2008, Lima and Dill 1990, Howery and Deliberto 2004, Williams 2010). Herd management costs also increase with wolves because producers need to check on animals more frequently, spend more time doctoring injured stock, and find animals scattered during predation events so they can be removed to safe locations (Williams 2010). Removal of cattle generally results in disruption of annual grazing plans and higher forage costs.

It has been suggested that wolves may create a “landscape of fear” that alters landscape use and preferred habitats because of the threat of predation (Manning et al. 2009, Kauffman et al. 2010). If livestock alter their resource use or the extent of their dispersal across the landscape because of wolves, currently preferred sites may not be grazed and the carrying capacity of the land could be reduced. Ranchers also report that livestock group into larger herds when predation is frequent which concentrate cattle making grazing management more difficult.

Research that examines wolf effects on wildlife populations is fairly common (Laundre et al. 2001, Garrott et al. 2005, Gude et al 2006, Creel et al. 2005, Muhly et al. 2010, Hebblewhite et al. 2002, Vucetich et al. 2005) but studies focused on wolf impacts on domestic livestock resource selection, behavior and ranch-level economics are rare (Muhly et al. 2010, Laporte et al. 2010, Oakleaf 2003, Bradley and Pletscher 2005, Rambler 2011). Our study was designed to document the effect of wolf predation on cattle behavior, landscape use patterns, and resource selection by comparing areas with high wolf densities against those with low wolf densities. This study was also designed to generate baseline information on cattle spatial behavior before wolves become common on landscapes where they currently are rare.

Wolf tracking videos or "Cow Movies"



An efficient and effective way of viewing GPS tracking data is by creating “cow movies” in which animal GPS positions are sequentially plotted on a background map (e.g., aerial photograph). These movies or video files typically show current animal positions as bright points that then fade and disappear leaving a “tail” of fading points as the succeeding positions continue to be plotted. The GPS positions plotted in these video files are time-stamped with Universal Date/Time so spatial relationships, activities, or specific events can be identified and, if needed, the Cow Moviesoriginal data sets reexamined. The videos created from each site and year can be viewed at any desired frame rate, stopped, and backed up as necessary to gain insight as to herding behavior, resource use pattern, and by combining wolf and cattle data, wolf-cattle interactions. Because file size can become very large with long duration data sets, we break our observation periods into units of 10 days or less. An example of this type of data can be viewed at:
Dealing with Wolves in Oregon, October 6, 2011
READ FULL REPORT: Wolves_in_Oregon_unlisted_Oct 10_generic.pdf
With the dispersal of wolves from Northeastern Oregon to several new places throughout the eastern half of the state, citizens need to know what is legal, whom to contact and what procedures you may need to follow if you encounter a wolf. An additional concern is that the wolves in Oregon can be found in close proximity to homes, calving operations, barns and other places where people work, live and play,

The wolf is currently listed as Endangered under the Oregon ESA. It has been delisted by the Federal Government in the portion of Oregon that lies east of Hwy 395 from the Washington line to Burns, then south along Hwy 78 to Burns Junction, and south along Hwy 95 to the Nevada border. West of that line wolves are listed as threatened under the federal ESA, however, management of the wolves is very similar and contacts below would be the same.

Video: Wolf Hunting Tactics

Video: Crying Wolf Movie Trailer

Purchase this movie to show your group @
Websites and material mentioned on today's program:
Wolves_in_Oregon_unlisted_Oct 10_generic.pdf



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