A Virginia lawmaker cited a Washington State University scientist’s assertion that shooting wolves increases attacks on livestock. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said wolves balance ecosystems and noted the danger suburban motorists face of crashing into deer.

Don Jenkins

Capital Press

House wolf debate features OR-7, WSU, ‘idiots’

The U.S. House debate Nov. 16 on de-listing gray wolves in the lower 48 was tinged with Northwest references to OR-7, Washington ranchers and the thought of turning lose apex predators in Portland.

A Virginia lawmaker cited a Washington State University scientist’s assertion that shooting wolves increases attacks on livestock. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said wolves balance ecosystems and noted the danger suburban motorists face of crashing into deer. Another Oregon congressman, Peter DeFazio, said he wished his southwestern Oregon district had more wolves and dismissed de-listing as idiocy.

The House could have used the hour set aside for the debate on wolves to work on education policy, the budget or a farm bill, said DeFazio, D-Springfield. “But, no, we are here on a talking point for a few idiots,” he said.

The House, still controlled by Republicans for a few more weeks, voted 196-180 to pass H.R. 6784. The measure would strip wolves of federal protection in California, and the western two-thirds of Oregon and Washington. Wolves already have been de-listed in Idaho and the eastern one-third of Oregon and Washington.

DeFazio was also dismissive of the bill’s chances of becoming law. “By the way, it’s going nowhere in the Senate,” the veteran congressman said.

Washington Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers said ranchers in her state have been affected by wolves for many years.

“Each year, we are losing hundreds of livestock to wolves and costing our economy millions of dollars,” she said.

“In Eastern Washington, and specifically in northeastern Washington, predation on calves has become common.”

Rep. Don Beyer, whose Virginia district borders Washington, D.C., said he would “love to see the gray wolves in Virginia someday.”

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