Leave Wolves the Hell Alone

Northeastern Washington cattle rancher Len McIrvin has made it clear: he really hates wolves—especially members of the local Wedge pack. Though the rancher way of life depends on government handouts and write-offs, he’s been unwilling to accept compensation for the cows he claims to have lost to wolves, fearing it would legitimize protection of the natural predators.

It may not be fair to compare him and his son to poachers Bill White and son, who illegally killed most of the Lookout Pack (Washington’s first confirmed wolf pack to return home from Canada), since the McIrvins appear to operate above board by deferring to the state game department to do the dirty work for them. But they are all cut of the same cloth—cattle ranchers who think wolves serve no Earthly purpose and should be eliminated (once again).

It’s no wonder some ranchers feel they can get away with murder, so to speak. They’ve gotten used to having everything handed to them, ever since the government paid for the cavalry to wage war with the Indians and bankrolled bounties and poisoning campaigns against wolves to make room for their private ranches—and ensure “Manifest Destiny” (the doctrine or belief prevalent in the 19th century that the United States had the God-given right to expand into and possess the whole of the North American continent). But Western ranchers aren’t satisfied with keeping cows on their vast tracts of private land (possibly given to their ancestors free of charge back in the homesteading era); they want the Feds to throw in a few thousand acres of cleared national forest land so they can expand their claim out into the neighboring wildlife habitat.

The US Forest Service contends that grazing fees bring in funds as part of their “Multiple Use” policy, but ranchers contribute only about $1.35 per “Animal Unit Month” (a detached, depersonalizing term for a cow and calf pair feeding for four weeks on public forests). According to a 2005 Government Accounting Office report, that paltry one dollar and thirty-five cent fee covers only a tiny fraction of the grazing program’s administrative costs, making this in essence just another a subsidy program in disguise.

Still, McIrvin feels entitled to prevail upon his buddies in the game department and local politicians to do whatever they can to make the entire Wedge pack disappear. He recently told the Capital Press that the only compensation he’s interested in is a dead wolf for every dead calf, copping a Bill White-like attitude: “This isn’t a wolf problem, we always could take care of our own problems,” adding that the only acceptable option is trapping and poison. Now he’s at it again, making extreme statements in any paper that’ll print them. Yesterday he showed his hand by making this fanatical comment to the Seattle Times: “Wolves have never been compatible with raising livestock.”

Okay, so you want to be an extremist, eh, rancher? (I’m doing the Clint Eastwood talking to a chair bit now…) Go ahead, punk, make my day. Two can play at that game; I’ll show you extreme. Hows about you damned cattle barons gettin’ your cows off my national forest and leavin’ my wolves the Hell alone. The wolves were here first and your poor cows don’t want to be livin’ out on some steep, brushy clearcut anyway. In fact, maybe it’s time you got outta cattle-ranchin’ altogether and started growin’ some healthy, organic crops insteada turnin’ your introduced livestock out into the woods to tempt the wolves and compete with the native deer, elk and moose who belong there.

Text and Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson


70 thoughts on “Leave Wolves the Hell Alone

  1. Last paragraph is a gem, sad and too true though; those people won’t be happy until nature is completely killed off and nothing but human commerce overruns the world (see China for a glimpse of what that’s like) like the foulest, most idiotic of diseases, because it will also kill off the parasites who caused it.
    Here’s something from China, the Yangtze River has turned red (probably chemical pollution, but to me symbolizing the enormous amount of tortured animal blood spilled by the Chinese), but I’m crazy like that, and yes I know they’re not alone in abusing and killing animals, they’re just more extreme and it’s much more common/accepted, except by the animal lovers of course: http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/yangtze-river-turns-red-turns-mystery-175232434–abc-news-topstories.html

    • Calling all RANCHERS…..GET YOUR OWN GOD DAMN LAND!!!! If you can NOT afford to then GET ANOTHER WAY OF LIFE…. These wolves OWN the land NOT you assholes!!!! Your cattle should be NO where near where the wolves hunt they are hunting to eat and feed their families and lets face it you would do the same so SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT!!! but quit complaining…

      • You “Ranchers” believe that you have the right to lease government land but that the wildlife that had lived there for hundreds of years have no right to be there! You believe that because some cattle have died, that it must be the wolves. We have many A-pex predators including bear, eagle and mountain lion. You want compensation for your loss wheather you can prove it or not, which in many cases you havent proved at all. All we ask is to quit spreading the hate. Why should you have the right to lease these lands? The wolves have paid dearly to hunt on the land that was theirs from the start, with their life! Take a second look at yourselves, you sound and act like the KKK. We whom love the wolf can understand your plight, please try and understand ours. You are doing a grave injustice to the wolf, to believe as you do. Maybe we need a new petition, ” to stop the ranchers from leasing the ground that they believe they own when it’s a priviledge to be able to let your livestock live off public lands. Please listen to our words. they are important to you, and your kids and grandkids. Reconsider your so called logic

      • Thanks for your comments, Jacki. The one thing I’ll add is that the ranchers in this case aren’t accepting compensation, because, they claim, it would ‘legitimize wolf protections.’ Personally I think they know there would be a lot more scrutiny of their (bogus?) charges of wolf depedations if they did accept the compensation…

  2. These Ranchers live a culture of death. They make a living off of sending animals to a slaughterhouse. They whine and cry about losing animals. 98% of the animals that they lose have nothing to do with other animals. Birthing complications, weather, and disease take the majority. One thing is clear…..they hate wildlife and they hate biodiversity. They pollute the environment and then act as if we need to thank them for supplying 3% of the food supply…..The sooner public lands grazing goes bye bye the better. Then maybe we can let the wild animals live in peace

    • Thanks for the grea points, William. The papers never cover these facts, especially that 98% of cows die from something other than natural predators. I would be willing to bet this has been the case with the ranch in question here and any teeth marks that may have been found on cow carcasses came after the animal had already died of some other cause.

  3. A magnificent,and much maligned animal.They have far more to fear from humans than we have from them.Expose these lying,bloodthirsty murdering hunter bastards for what they are.

  4. ummmmm, ok so why is this jack-ass allowed to raise anything, we all know cattle ranchers have their hands in the governments pockets and the government babies our cattle ranchers, I am so sick of it, there really needs to be a middle ground, giving them our national lands, oh hell no, and I am sure the ranchers are keeping the cows as pets, never intending to kill them for food??? So, if you have a ranch that borders a national forest or ANY government land maybe you should keep a better eye on your animals. Maybe keep them in a pen closer to where you can keep an eye on them….You know what maybe pull a you know from the Bible, he slept out in the field with his animals, maybe go blow up your air mattress and protect them. Open season on wolves just shows how dumb and uneducated you actually are, I am sure these Cows would rather be killed quickly by a wolf then letting them get older and kill them for their meat….these poor animals are killed by either a shot to the head or worse yet, in a machine that cuts the animals head off for Kosher beef….you are an ass McIrvin, and I really hope God has mercy on you!

  5. Someone is not listening. History repeats itself and they didn’t listen the first time they tried to kill the wolf into extinction. You cannot mess with Mother Nature without messing up our entire being. As far as I see it, there are alot people who need this wake up call.

  6. Len and his ilk have absolutely NO business being on our public lands. They’re nothing but a bunch of Death Cult elitists with a place reserved for them on the lowest level of Dante’s Inferno.

  7. These ruthless cattle barons have no place in the 21st Century.
    They belong back in the 1870’s, and 1880’s, not the year 2012 A.D.
    There’s one thing, our like-minded readers can do..
    Revolt against the meat industry by becoming a vegetarian/vegan!
    And then tell all those wild-west wackos to take their beef and
    shove it up to where the sun don’t shine!

  8. We need to table at every event we can – and we need volunteers who love to write to go to their local papers and start weekly columns going up against the killing advocacy of the outdoors pages and their endless propaganda.

    The Taylor Grazing Act gave grazing rights and lease rights to huge tracts of the west back in the 1930’s, ten cents on the dollar, built roads, poisoned out wildlife with 1080 that went right through the chain of life – built septics and fencing and basicly subsidized the desertification of the west and the destruction of our wildlife.

    The Farm Bureau – even the CRANBERRY growers in Wisconsin are in lock step with Scott Walker and pushing for destruction of wolves, bears, and now sandhill cranes, tundra swans and seagulls. They received a $3 million dollar subsidy playing out over these couple of years to filter through the hunters to pay farmers for access to their private land for killing. So the hunters get the money with the requisite payment to buy access to land to kill on private land, now that they have pushed through killing and trapping on ALL public lands. Quite a racket.

    So the upshot is state by state we must organize POLITICALLY to form a voting bloc to go up against the legislatures being controlled by killers. Get Julie Lewin’s book, GET POLITICAL FOR ANIMALS. As she claims, we have wasted decades not realizing what the hunters know – that legislators are elected on very small margins. They will sacrifice wildlife and nature every time – even so- called “progressives” to be re-elected with the coalition voting bloc of NRA/Farm Bureau and hunter/trapper/hounders. The legislators figure ” I will do other things that are good if I am in power – so what the heck – wildlife out of sight out of mind.”

    We must organize politically state by state to replace killing license funding with general public funding. Wildlife watchers (according to USFW economic impact studies, 2006 comparing hunting to wildlife watching state by state) – we bring 10-40 times the revenue of hunters directly to state tax coffers. In Wisconsin, a heavy hunting state, hunters generated $10 million and wildlife watchers $111 million in 2006. New statistics are due out this year. In Wisconsin, even if you add in the $40 million hunters paid to destroy our wildlife in 2011, wildlife watchers still bring (by now) 3-4 times more. And equal job creation, retail sales and multiplier effects throughout the economy. We must organize quickly to lobby that wildlife watching money already in state tax coffers to power. We have a right to pay and have a say – and a responsibility. If we do not go into our state agencies to do this, hunters want our money to fund their agenda. So they are getting it through a percentage of the sales tax (SNEAKY – so that the general public does not know they are funding their killing obsessions). Missouri passed this through over a decade ago – and Minnesota recently followed suit. They have tried it in Wisconsin – not sure why it did not got through. Probably too busy expanding hounding year round night and day everywhere and trapping and getting trapping into the school system. Watch out – they are connected across states and they are copycatting the most destructive policies into law so that it will take decades to unravel it.

    We do not have decades.

    You really get this, if you think of a state agency with only SAVING licenses. The hunter goes in to buy his patron kill everybody that is wild license and finds only saving licenses. How outraged would he be? He would be totally disenfranchised and powerless. So why should we, the majority accept their funding that makes us helpless? CRAZY. They want our money – that is the lead in. Transparent and tied to power is the way we must do it.

    • MadRaven, when knowledgeable and wise people like you, with solidly good values, are the directors of the state wildlife protection agency in your native Wisconsin and in all other states across the land, I’ll know that the US has become the truly great country it should have been. You are 100% correct, MadRaven. It will take a massive, ongoing, unceasing, always expanding public education and lobbying campaign in every state to turn finally turn off the massively criminal and devilish American wildlife killing scheme. This country in 2012 is still lying about its bloody and violent roots, which continues to this day with regard to the continent’s persecuted and precious native wildlife. Instead of atoning for the massacre of the native people and native wildlife, the bastard killers and their government enablers continue the injustice. MadRaven, our side must come together and follow your plan and stop the wildlife persecuters, finally and forever. We have to do this now. Now.

  9. Bravo! I’ve felt this way myself. Thanks for putting it into words. The real key to long term preservation, not only of wolves but of many species lies in the voluntary retirement of grazing permits. Believe it or not some ranchers have already said they’re willing to take a buyout, particularly in the desert southwest where the Mexican Gray Wolf is struggling just to exist in the wild. The problem is here not only the ranchers but a government that won’t even move to make these beneficial permit retirements legal. The equation is painfully simple. First we have to move a do-nothing federal government to take a cost cutting action that will benefit the public (including the ranchers) and the environment. Then we have to work one by one to get ranchers to see their way of life is economically non-viable without continued government “sponsorship” and get them to choose to take the money and return the land to the people.

  10. Hey Billie, Good idea, but if we did that, they’d probably take that out on the wolves too! Between the unethical ranchers, hunters, trappers, and game management forces, we’re
    dealing with an anti-wildlife mafia! We the people need to take back control here! One thing that can help is that some of these lame-brained, selfish-minded, good-old-boys as well as a few Sarah Palin types, have been stupid enough to exploit their behavior on YouTube and on some trapper sites. The film of the guys training their dogs to hunt on coyotes (You Tube), filming themselves commanding the dogs to terrorize a coyote they shot that could hardly walk, and then one of the guys gets in the picture and kicks the coyote in the head! This pissed off a lot of people! And another idiot, Hunter/Trapper Josh Bransford from Granger Idaho, employee of the Idaho Dept of Fish and Game, Wildlife Management Division, dumb enough to set a trap for himself! Posting the pic of himself posing with a big smile in the foreground, with his bleeding dying wolf victim in the background. These rutheless people scare me and need to have the power of wildlife control taken away! This guy got so much attention that you can bring up a whole bunch of reaction articles on the net by just typing his name in as key words. He pissed off the ethical hunters too! It’s earie to see these people gloat and get off to this torcher!

    • You and me both… ready to go run amuck in the wild and howl at the moon. I hope its soon

      . too many protective laws have lapsed.. bison are ‘culled’ in YNSP, wolves now, it makes me appreciate when I see a coyote here.. and wonder if he will live another day..

  11. Brilliant response to this federal welfare rancher. Hey, McIrvin, get the hell off our public land with your “holy” cows. A majority of the country is fed up and sick of your bloody and violent industry. Sooner than later the federal and state agencies will catch up with the majority of Americans everywhere who really do want wolves and not cows on OUR PUBLIC LAND! You and your rancher buddies will have to change or your welfare scheme will be changed from under you. The old West is dying, thank goodness, and as dark as it looks for wolves and other native wildlife right now, a new day is coming… Of wolves and bison and cougars and prairie dogs and all native wildlife restored to THEIR NATIVE HOMELAND and cows removed from all of OUR PUBLIC LANDS!!!

  12. Leave the wolves alone. If it ranchers want to graze on government property them they take their chances and don’t deserve compensation

  13. I am extremely proud and heartened to be among such informed, empathetic people who simply just “get it” while all those hunters and ranchers are monopolizing the monies and lobbying for even more control of our federal lands and it’s wild inhabitants. madravenspeak is correct – I know it – inasmuch as creating a “voting bloc” may be only one of two ways to go. Of course the other is to INSIST that hunting and ranching money pales in comparison to what “wildlife watchers” kick into the economy. We NEED to keep a hawk’s eye on those figures – it is imperative – and demand that credit be given where it is due. Madraven, if and when you come across the new Wisconsin statistics, please let everyone here know, k? Meanwhile, didn’t the Fish and Wildlife people conduct a similar study recently using national figures? I’d like to know more about that when it’s available, if it isn’t already.

    • Hi. I hope you find the following info helpful. I may be missing it, but I have not yet come across the State data that was to be available last month.


      From site: “Preliminary information from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (FHWAR) is provided in this report. The final National Report will be available in November 2012.”

      “The next report of preliminary findings will contain State data and will be available in August of 2012. This and future Survey reports will also be available on our web page at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/home.html.”

      Thanks…to all of you. Your posts give me hope.

      • Cindy….thanks so VERY much for the link. I haven’t read it yet but a brief article I’d read a while back (and could not find again!) sounded very promising, so I anticipate hopeful news. Just wanted to acknowledge you asap. In my heart I feel that this is going to be key in helping us to help the wild ones; giving us voices that WILL BE HEARD. and possibly make it easier to connect with like-minded legislators who will help us make the difference. Can hardly wait until November!!

  14. Its a wonder some rancher with that lack of intelligence doesn’t shoot himself! A wonder.. and a pity!! Leave the wolves alone… or sacrifice one to ur god the government who hands u subsidies… welfare attitude… small minded man..

    Wolves are ESSENTIAL part of eco system. They are needed to make life balanced for animals..

    Probably the same mindset that goes out killing shark just bc they saw the crazy mechanical one in JAWS… #idiots

  15. We have the same problem here in Texas with coyotes and bobcats on a deer and axis hunting ranch – they’re consider vermin and hunters are paid to shoot them. I have always been shocked by this.

    As the world switches over to a more vegan diet, these issues will become moot. We just need to positively convince the “fence folks” that it’s the right thing to do to hasten change. In the meantime, there will always be a faction of meat-eaters that will not be swayed. Fine then. The fixed-petroleum dilemma (one of the 2 legs of the 3-legged stool holding up the meat industry) will take care of them for us.

      • I just had to write a letter to an Ontario, Canada mayor regarding the possibility that they will start a bounty on coyotes. Doing some googling, it’s quite surprising that currently and historically, boutines really don’t work much of the time…they don’t accomplish what they set out to do. However, there are many instances of killing to the verge of extinction. Hard to know.

  16. I totally agree with Dale’s comment; if the McIrvins don’t like what’s happening on public land, then they should move the cattle to their own private land. I am greatly annoyed by the fact that ranchers are heavily subsidized by our government and then they have the audacity to try to control our public lands, too. Wolves and other wildlife belong on public lands, not cows and sheep.

  17. Hey All,
    Thank you for your fabulous work on this. I think, however, that unless I’m misreading something, we may be underestating how many cattle McIrvin runs. I’ve seen figures of 300 head in some of the articles, but I think those are wrong. This 2003 article for Cascade Horseman: http://www.cascadehorseman.com/articles/2003/03/13/cattleman/news01.txt
    says that the McIrvins run what seems around 5800 cattle. “Annually, they calve 2,500 cows and lease out another 700 to 800 head” So that’s 2500 cow/calf units = 5000 cattle plus the others. So even if we counted all twelve cows as full losses, that’s something like .2 percent. Thank you, Derrick

    • Hi Derrick, thanks for those current figures. I had no idea he ran so many cows. That explains how McIrvins can afford to turn down compensation–he doesn’t need the money! But still he and his son complain that they “can’t afford to do business with that kind of losses” (0.2% as you pointed out.)

      I’ve seen what kind of damage to vegetation and waterways only a few dozen cows can do. These cows are probably overgrazing and simply dropping off from starvation. The wolves (if there’s really any depredation happening at all) are just putting some of his overpopulated cattle out of their misery and doing the habitat a favor.

  18. Got it, Jim. Thanks. So if I came across something our group might be interested in (i.e., the Seattle Times article above) … and it is off topic to the current discussion….then, there is no way? Just want to confirm.

    • You did the one thing you can do by posting the link in the comments section here. (Thanks for the Times article, by the way. I was glad to see how much it mirrored the letter I wrote to them the other day, in their typical middle of the road way of course.) Other people can reply to whatever you post here, and some of the things you post might inpire a blog post, but again, this is not really a chat room or public message board where people change threads and talk amongst themselves. I have a limited amount of storage space on this blog and the site has bogged down even when I write too much. I’ll be posting more info about what this site is in today’s upcoming blog post, called, “What the Hell is This?” Again, thanks for your comments.

      • Consider me “clarified” 🙂
        I am a little disappointed….as of today there are only two comments on the Seattle Times article. Where are all the wolf advocates and wildlife advocates in general? Actually I’m VERY disappointed. While it’s great that we can blog to each other … enjoy the comraderie of other like-minded people, I think the government agencies and the public can learn what our feelings are by reading our responses and comments to the articles.

  19. Hey All,
    Here is a letter to the editor that I’m going to submit to my local paper in California tonight. Feel free to use any of this you would like for other letters to the editor elsewhere. Just don’t do the Triplicate in Crescent City, since that’s the one I did. I added all the “free market” stuff since I live in a tea party town and it’s good to put their contradictions in their faces.
    oh, also, I don’t know if I read this hear, but I read somewhere that the old grandfather McIrvin who died in 2010 was a John Bircher, so this family has insanity and nastiness in their bones.
    Thank you,

    Newspapers have a responsibility to not mislead the public. The wire story “Wash. state simmers over gray wolves” was extremely misleading.
    It states the McIrvin father and son ranchers at the Diamond M Ranch in Washington suffered a “grueling summer of losses.” The son declared, “We just can’t operate with the kind of losses we’re seeing.” They claim to have lost twelve cattle “killed or injured” by wolves, although we also learn that outside experts don’t believe their number.
    It took me only five minutes to discover a few of the article’s problems. You should have done this due diligence.
    First, there’s no financial loss. Washington State pays ranchers for cattle killed by wolves: ranchers get compensated twice market value for every confirmed wolf kill, and market value for every probable wolf kill. So the McIrvins would actually profit from this. But McIrvin adamantly refuses to accept this money, stating the only compensation that interests him is dead wolves. So I’m sorry, he doesn’t get to cry poor on this. (http://www.capitalpress.com/lvstk/mw-Wash–wolf-kill-080812).
    And what did the article mean by “killed or injured”? It ends up, not much. Some of the injuries are minor enough that they could have been caused by barbed wire. The article misled. (https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/the-only-acceptable-option/)
    The article states the McIrvin family runs cattle on public and private land, but fails to mention that these particular cows are all grazed on public lands. It also fails to mention that grazing on federal lands is subsidized by the American public, as grazing fees are a fraction of what they are on private lands in the free market.
    But here’s the real whopper: the article is supposed to make us feel sorry for McIrvins’s “grueling” financial losses, which make it so they “can’t operate.” But two minutes research reveals this to be nonsense. While the local herd is 300 head, a 2003 Cascade Horseman article reveals that in total the McIrvins run more than 5000 cattle: “Annually, they calve 2,500 cows and lease out another 700 to 800 head.” (http://www.cascadehorseman.com/articles/2003/03/13/cattleman/news01.txt) Unless they’ve contracted dramatically in a decade, at most their losses (for which they’d be compensated if they didn’t hate wolves) are .2 percent: completely trivial. Any business that can’t survive .2 percent losses doesn’t deserve to survive in the free market.
    Please do five minutes research before printing articles. It will save you from misleading the community.

    • Thanks Derek, for sharing your letter and for including the link back to my earlier blog post. That’s interesting that grandpa McIvins was a John Bircher. I’ve been thinking that part of the motive behind their wolf vilification is to impress their friends in the order of the anti-wolfers (possibly an offshoot of the JBers).

    • Derrick, this is great! I’d love to copy/paste and send to a hard-working coyote advocate in the northeast…is that okay? More for the knowledge gleaned from your research methodology. It could help them currently or in the future in their fight against farmers’ current desire to impose a bounty. Could you send this in response to the article in the Seattle Times as well? I’ve already commented.

      • Dear Gail, Thank you. Of course you can send it to the advocate in the NE. I’m going to wait till I see if the local paper publishes it before I send it to the Seattle Times. After that I’ll try to remember to do it! Thank you, Derrick

  20. Derrick, pls keep us posted on whether or not your local paper does publish…send us a link?….and…if you do submit your info to the Seattle Times. I’m distressed to see there are ONLY 3 comments to that article. Perhaps it appeared in some obscure section of the Seattle Times and not many people saw it. But I posted several times on facebook, emails, etc. and yet hardly any response. The three that appear, however, are GOOD. I thought if they were deluged with pro-wolf comments, they’d find it desirable to print more articles.

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