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Opinion >  Letters

Rural counties besieged

Federal and state agencies are preparing to reintroduce grizzly bears and additional wolves into Washington’s rural counties. Lawless environmental groups like Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front attempted to create habitat for these dangerous animals in the 1980s by sabotaging logging equipment, tree spiking, damaging electric lines and towers, bombings and other illegal acts.

They have shifted tactics and graduated from universities with master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental sciences and law. They are now state and federal employees. Some have been elected to the Legislature.

They are not proposing reintroduction of grizzlies and wolves into King or Snohomish counties, which were once these animals’ native habitats. These counties have large populations and average household incomes exceeding $70,000, which adds up to political power.

The proposal is to reintroduce these animals into Eastern Washington counties with low populations and low incomes. The rural ranchers there have a daily struggle to survive by grazing cattle and sheep, and raising hay. The historic multimillion-acre Carlton Complex fire of last year destroyed much of those rural lands’ growing ability, and even some small towns.

Combined with the closure of small-town hospitals and nursing homes, these rural ranches and small towns are on the edge of survival.

The addition of grizzlies and wolves that prey not only on elk and deer, but also on ranch-raised sheep, cows and fowl, may well spell the end of ranching in these rural counties. Residents had better develop a defensive strategy on how to survive and protect their way of life. It appears none will be forthcoming from state and federal agencies or elected officials.

William Riley

Soap Lake, Wash.

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