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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

“Lethal take”? Translation please

Written March 31st, 2016 by Hasso Hering
ODFW has this portrait on its web page devoted to wolves.

ODFW has this portrait on its web page devoted to wolves.

In northeast Oregon’s Wallowa County on Thursday, state employees shot and killed four wolves to keep them from killing more livestock. That’s what happened, according to the news, but that’s not what officials and publicists called it.

In a press release announcing the impending shootings, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it had “confirmed five livestock depredation incidents on private land within the past three weeks by some wolves in the Imnaha pack…” Translation: Wolves had killed five calves or lambs or injured them so badly they had to be put down.

ODFW, the agency said, “will lethally remove depredating wolves to reduce the likelihood of further losses.”

Could we just describe things in plain English, please? “Lethally remove” is too vague a euphemism for “kill.” It could mean chasing the animals with helicopters until they expire from exhaustion. Or it could mean trapping them and then killing them in a cage with poison gas.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was even more circumspect in its language. “On Thursday,” the association said, “Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife made the difficult decision to enact lethal take on the Imnaha pack after the pack committed five depredations on livestock within the month of March.”

“Enact lethal take”? And what had the wolves done? They had “committed five depredations.” Bad, bad wolves!

Wolves killing livestock and then being killed in response are the predictable result of a conscious decision by wildlife officials some years ago reintroduce these predators in the wilds of Idaho, where wolves had been as extinct as they were in Oregon. Some of the wolves migrated to Oregon, where they have grown in number to the point where the state removed them from the list of endangered species, a decision the legislature has just confirmed.

A couple of years ago the country was excitedly following the wanderings of a lone wolf from Oregon to California and back. And now we’re to the point where the state has to kill its relatives because, like all creatures, they like to eat.

Let’s try not to be sentimental about this. We kill animals all the time – wild ones like crabs and fish and deer and domesticated ones raised for the very purpose of slaughter. If you had a burger at McDonald’s, as I did today, an animal was killed — after a short and mostly miserable life — to make it possible. So why the fuss over a few wolves?

But if we’re gonna kill ’em, let’s at least use the right words in describing what we do. (hh)



10 responses to ““Lethal take”? Translation please”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    You’re absolutely correct. On the other hand the way we use words to describe things may be showing a “pack” mentality not removed from what the wolves do. Someone uses the phrase “lethally removed” and it can quickly become adopted by others, not by an edict (though that may happen from time to time) but because people naturally tend to follow others.

    Languages do evolve..

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Maybe “Terminate with extreme prejudice” would be more apropos…

  3. centrist says:

    Agree that language does evolve as needs and circumstances change.
    However, the triggers that got to HH are “polysyllabic dysentery”. (Wish I could attribute that phrase)

  4. Warren Beeson says:

    Consider: “clinical removal of fetal tissue” instead of “killing an unborn baby”?

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    It’s all about being “Politically Correct.”

    • Bob Woods says:

      No, it’s not. It happens in science, reporting, and writing in every discipline.

      Being “politically correct” and assuming everything is politically connected is what people like you do.

  6. Rich Kellum says:

    It is all about fear… People want to hide what they are doing, using language to hide behind killing of no matter what, it’s killing. The only reason to use something else is so people won’t know what you are doing. When that is the case maybe you should look at what you are doing instead of hiding behind words. If you are unwilling to let people know that you are killing something, maybe, just maybe you are afraid of their reaction.

 

 
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