The protection of Oregon’s heritage could perhaps be one of the best descriptions of those who are working in the Oregon livestock industry. Day after day, ranchers are working out on the land, raising their animals to produce a quality project. Preserving the land is part of that work – as the land is their livelihood. Not unlike it was for the first settlers in this state. Conservation, sustainability and protection of the land and the wildlife that count on it for food and water have been constant values for Oregon ranchers.
When we look at issues that can have a significant impact on the makeup of our economy, our environment, even our way of life, it is important for Oregonians to consider the spirit that has driven this state. We understand that the best ideas for a problem come from those who are most involved. Local solutions that come from the individuals who best understand the many facets of a community, an area, or region can result in reasonable, fair and effective answers to some of our most difficult issues we face daily.
Oregon’s natural resources, wildlife, and land are some of its most precious resources. While the face of the state has changed with cities and industry popping up, Oregonians still care deeply about the land we call home. As ranchers, we know that it is the preservation of this land, the many natural resources that it provides and the wildlife living here as a system will help to sustain our work in the beef industry. Oregon’s agricultural sector is the second largest economic contributor to our state economy. The beef industry is a large part of that sector. Which means contribution to the economic growth of our state economy and Oregon’s comeback from this most recent economic downturn is also on the minds of cattle ranchers.
The livestock industry and the ranchers who work their land everyday to raise cattle have faced serious challenges in managing their business and investment with the very real and documented threat of predator kills, including the Canadian Gray Wolf. Recently, several groups with a variety of interest have called into question the work of ranchers to protect their land and their animals. Different proposals have been brought forward by various groups to address those issues. In order for a real conversation to occur between differing opinions, we want to state clearly that the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is committed to finding solutions that are based in science based data and research and make sense for the local communities and residents involved.
Since the re-introduction of the Canadian Gray Wolf in the US, there has been millions spent to define management practices at the state and local levels. Yet, with all of that investment, we have not realized solutions that can provide responsible, professional, science-based management of the wolf population. The population of wolves overall has risen far beyond the levels that were planned for – and lack of locally based management plans have caused conflict and unnecessary spending of landowner, state and federal dollars – all over the United States.
Oregon Wild has publicly contacted the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association to sit down and discuss their suggestions on how the livestock industry should conduct their business. The OCA is always willing to engage in a constructive and fair conversation on topics of mutual interest, whether we agree or not. But we also must insist on seeing the data behind the ideas, assumptions and statements that are presented. We need to understand who makes up the coalition of groups that are promoting increases in the wolf population for Oregon. We want to understand their interests and intent in the issue.
It is important to the OCA that groups, stating they know what Oregonians prefer, what they support, and what they embrace have the data behind these statements. We want to know they are working at the local level here in Oregon to learn what Oregonians want and what they need. Plans for control and management of predators and natural resources cannot come from large, nationally based organizations that are headquartered in states other than Oregon. Solutions that are best for Oregon’s economy and environment need to be based in the experience and expertise of its communities. When large organizations, headquartered outside of Oregon, target Oregon for the promotion of their particular brand of conservation, Oregonians are subjected to the views of people who do not live here – in our local communities. They aren’t working hard everyday to make a living for their families within the local communities they are affecting. They aren’t participating daily in those local towns and cities that make up our state.
We would like to know that the ideas or suggestions presented on behalf of Oregonians have been vetted locally first – in the communities that will be impacted. And with the individuals who will feel the results, both positive and negative, from predator and wolf management.
We ask that the stakeholders referenced by Oregon Wild be sure they taken a look at what ranchers are doing daily to manage predator wolves in non-lethal ways – and the outcomes of those efforts.
Ranchers and the beef industry are proud of our commitment to conservation and sustainability. We have numerous documented examples of work done at the local level to restore waterways and land for the benefit of livestock and wildlife. Rangeland provides a critical source of water and food for Oregon’s abundant wildlife – many of which are preyed upon by the same predators as cattle.
We are ready to find solutions to Oregon’s strategy of wolf and predator management that needs of the animals involved, livestock and wildlife, and of the people involved, those living in the local communities of Oregon. We seek to find ways to answer some of Oregon’s critical issues with answers that make sense for Oregonians. And those answers come from the people who call this state their home. We look forward to engaging in that work with others who are invested in Oregon’s success economically, environmentally and for the future of all who call Oregon home.
Curtis Martin, President
Oregon Cattlemen’s Association