By Hudson Sangree
Wolves tend to stir up strong emotions from those who regard them as vicious predators and others who see them as magnificent wildlife.
Those feelings were on full display at a hearing Friday night in Sacramento meant to generate public input for a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take the gray wolf off its list of endangered species throughout the lower 48 states.
In some states where the wolves have made a recovery, they are no longer listed as endangered and can be hunted.
In California, a state with no wolves, hundreds packed the hearing room at the Marriott Courtyard Sacramento Cal Expo, some wearing cowboy hats and others sporting caps with wolf ears.
Ranchers, spooked by the yearlong foray of a gray wolf known as OR7 into Northern California from Oregon, told two Fish and Wildlife officials seated on the dais that wolves did not belong near their livestock.
“That’s my livelihood – producing food for you,” rancher Scott Murphy, president of the Siskiyou Resource Conservation District, boomed into the microphone. He said the presence of wolves tended to make cows nervous.
Conservationists said wolves needed continued protection from human hunters.
“I would love to hear wolves howl here again,” Gale Lederer told the officials, her voice breaking with emotion. She said Californians had lived with mountain lions and could also live with wolves.
Applause and jeers greeted the testimony, much of which strayed from the main point of the proposal. More....