News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Letters to the Editor 5/22/2024

Crying wolf

To the Editor:

Two guest columnist articles printed in the May 15, 2024 edition were out of touch with science and facts.

Steve Allely’s claim about “Oregon wolves” vs. “Canadian transplants” is based only on claims by untrained biased observers, not actual science. Science is based on surveys, studies, and facts based on evidence. ODFW is far more reliable about facts.

A quick Internet search on wolf species verifies that the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, 70 to 150 pounds, are the same all across the northern Rockies and always were.

Many people mistake cats for cougars and dogs for wolves when viewing from a distance.

Ryan Moffat’s commentary, “Endowed by Our Creator,” seems naive. It contains a distortion of facts about what makes citizens happy, more content, and less likely to commit crimes. Moffat claims that Americans would be less pessimistic, more moral, and happier if they remembered the language in the Declaration of Independence about our freedoms being “endowed by our Creator.”

Jefferson actually championed the separation of church and state, and believed a person’s religious beliefs should be personal to themselves. Only men were originally seen as deserving of equal rights. Women and slaves were not given the same rights as men by the Declaration of Independence. They had to struggle for equality, and by some degree are still doing so.

The more secular European countries generally have higher rates of human happiness and less crime than in the more religious countries like the U.S.

Belief in being created by a god does not necessarily make a person happier or a country more harmonious or more moral.

Science supports that evolution is our “creator,” and we evolved to be social creatures. Religion can be both helpful and hurtful; hurtful when beliefs divide us.

Laurel Hines

To the Editor:

Wolf Welcome Committee wishes to correct misinformation stated in “Rethink Wolf Reintroduction,” (The Nugget op-ed by Steve Allely, May 15, page 2).

Canadian and U.S. gray wolves are one species (Aaron Bott, Oregon regional wolf biologist, Wolf Biology 101).

1947: the last wolf brought in for a bounty payment — Lane County, Oregon. (Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan 2019, ODFW).

Eighty to 120 pounds average gray wolf weight (Aaron Bott, Wolf Biology 101, Deschutes Co. Wolf Committee meetings). Two-hundred-pound wolves are non-existent.

Gray wolves naturally colonized Oregon by dispersal from Idaho. They are not “invasive” nor transplanted, as Allely stated. (; Doug Smith, 28 years as Yellowstone National Park’s wolf biologist).

Oregon elk populations are stable, and increasing in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, having the highest wolf populations. Wolves target the weak: old, injured, or diseased, (

Since 1998, before wolves appeared in Oregon, mule deer populations have been at only 50 percent sustainability. ODFW biologists and the Deschutes Co. Wildlife Inventory Update study revealed that habitat loss is the greatest threat to mule deer populations, (Deschutes Co. Planning / County Commission meetings — 2023).

We personally know Ander Rhoads, “Recreating with wolves in Central Oregon” author, who Allely called unexperienced. High praise goes to this 13-year old’s well-researched article! Aaron Bott mentors Ander, and Rick McIntyre, world- renowned Park ranger and author of six books on wolves, invited Ander for a week in Yellowstone. Ander tracks wolves, sets up his own trail cams, and gave a presentation to teachers and students at a Bend school.

Donna Harris, Wolf Welcome Committee

To the Editor:

I acknowledge Mr. Allely’s interest in “our” wolves, however his op-ed is dangerously voicing misinformation and ideas (“Rethink wolf reintroduction,” The Nugget, May 15, page 2). Additionally his statements about Ander Rhoades are erroneous — Ander has done extensive study and field work, and has been mentored by ODFW wolf biologist Aaron Bott and Rick McIntyre a renowned wolf researcher/historian.

All gray wolves in the U.S., Canada, and Alaska have the same DNA. This is data proven by wolf experts who have studied wolves for decades, including Dr. David Mech, one of the world’s leading wolf biologists, Dr’s D. A Smith, D. Stahler, and D. MacNulty (all led the wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park in 1995/1996).

Size variation, color, and behavior among wolves is based on individual genotypes and phenotypes, not DNA. Behavior and temperament can be influenced by an individual, a pair, or the pack; one aggressive wolf doesn’t determine nor guarantee the continuance of the same behavior in others. This has been acutely field recorded on a daily basis by Rick McIntyre who has observed more wolves in the wild than any other individual.

No wolf has been recorded to weigh 200 pounds.

The rancher’s retelling where four deer were “just” killed and eaten is extremely unlikely. Wolves are poor hunters; 80 percent of hunts wolves lose. It is exhausting and dangerous, wolves only have their intelligence, pack cooperation/coordination, and luck to take down an animal twice their weight with only their teeth to grip the throat and suffocate its prey without getting trampled, kicked a mortal blow, or gored. Even if half-true, those deer were probably sick, or already dead, as wolves will scavenge to survive.

I would welcome sharing my resources of peer-reviewed science-based information with Mr. Allely not only for his benefit, but for the wolves.

Please just don’t cry wolf!

Wendy Von Kalinowski

No good choice

To the Editor:

Recently I have been reading all the pro-Biden and pro-Trump letters that have been placed in this column. Everyone shares their personal feelings on the matter and usually quick to run down the other side.

The mere truth is this: You’ve got two old crows with so much baggage that neither candidate is worthy. We have a career politician currently in office that is out of touch on many levels. Then we have a former President with more indictments than one can count. His past term was nothing but four years of pure rhetoric and chaos and it will be again if given the opportunity.

Neither of them will fix our problems such as inflation. Things have been high and keep getting higher. If you think a corrupt billionaire is the solution, then think again. If you think our current President is all of a sudden going to have a quick turnaround and a vast knowledge of solutions, then guess again. It’s a crap shoot, and we all lose.

Eric Cope

The case against Trump

In response to Jan Pray’s “Country Deserves Trump” opinion in the previous edition, let’s just get it correct.

1. The market has hit 40,000, job growth is strong while unemployment is historically low. Yes, food prices and housing costs are too high, but not the fault of the government, but price-gouging by Big Ag and petro giants.

2. The immigration issue has been with us for all of history, and needs to be addressed, but not with a wall that will (never) get built, and the current Republican House tanked the proposed bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill that (would) have helped, after the ex-President called them and told them so, for his own political strategy.

3. The “wars”.....The ex-President wanted to weaken NATO (which emboldened Putin), and, to Putin’s chagrin, our current President restored and even grew NATO into a stronger, cohesive deterrent from future aggressive ideas from Russia, beyond the Ukraine Invasion. That was Russia’s miscalculation. Neither the ex-President nor our current President could have predicted nor prevented the horrible attack on October 7, and the United States firmly supports Israel as they defend their country. We will (always) support and defend freedom.

4. World Leaders laughed behind closed doors at our ex-President and worried what chaos he’d bring next, as he purred at the lap of dictators like Putin, Kim, and Xi. His “China tariffs” didn’t bring America a dime, and was simply another of his grifter tales like “Mexico will pay for the wall.”

5. “Disinformation and misinformation” are real, growing issues, with the explosion of social media and all its memes and platforms. No one alone can control, let alone solve, this dangerous situation (case in point “the election was stolen” idiocy which is still clung to by many, even today).

6. Criminal trials. This one’s easy. The ex-president is the ONLY one involved with this series of embarrassing trials because he himself did these lawless acts: Took classified documents and didn’t want to give them back because he could impress his friends with them; begged Georgia officials to fabricate enough votes to tip their state in his favor (and had cronies try the same trick with other state’s officials, to their ultimate dismay as they await trials themselves); urged his followers to rally and rush the Capital to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power (shameful); and yes, paid a porn star to not sell her story before the election (no crime in itself), but orchestrated the unlawful booking of that payment as a “business expense,” which conflicts with campaign funding laws and IRS tax regulations. He would not be anywhere in courts had he followed all the laws. No sympathy here.

Whether our ex-president will be allowed to ever again set foot in the White House will no doubt be left up to the voters, but I for one, (an Independent Voter), will do everything I can to ensure that he does not.

Brad Earl

Better with Trump

To the Editor:

I believe Jan Pray made an excellent recap of the last several years that should prompt many to honestly answer the question posed “Am I better off today than I was in the previous administration?”

Unfortunately, the word “Trump” in the headline of her op-ed may cause an immediate hateful reaction from those who have been programmed with intense hate over the past eight years by “The View,” Hollywood types, elites in the Democratic Party like Nancy Pelosi, the “Squad,” Maxine Waters, and a mainstream press completely void of adherence to journalistic codes of ethics.

Hopefully I’m wrong and what we’ve all seen and heard over that same period has in fact contributed to what is now termed as “The Great Awakening.” For example, it is impossible to unsee what is occurring at the border and at the same time unhear Alejandro Mayorkas lie over and over to Congress that everything is under control.

Every point Jan brings up in her letter could be expanded into its own column with examples and details of outright abuse of power with no accountability; that is until now. Voters, regardless of party, are turning to Trump as an answer to reverse the intentional chaos and destruction of America seen over the past four years. When Biden insults Black voters by saying “if you don’t vote for me you ain’t Black,” is it any wonder what we are seeing occur in the polls?

Jan, again a really good job of writing with good ole common sense. As for your question, yes, I was beyond better under President Trump’s four years! How refreshing to have a leader that actually loves America and all its people.

Jeff Mackey

Sheriff’s Academy

To the Editor:

Last Wednesday and Thursday, Lt. Chad Davis organized an educational program to inform the citizens of Sisters what the various sheriff departments do in Deschutes County to “keep us safe.” It was very informative, well organized, educational, and eye opening.

I had no idea the extent of the activities of the sheriffs. It was great to hear the years of service these officers have in law enforcement. They do much more than patrol our streets. They answer emergency calls and assist other departments. Two of the patrol officers were in attendance and introduced themselves to those of us attending. We had time to visit with them. Be sure and say thank you when you see them, or give them a wave.

Then two detectives presented what they did, showing a video and how drones assist in their ability to solve various situations. They explained that not all things like processing DNA happens like on TV. They explained the many steps involved in solving crimes.

The school resource officer filled us in on what he does and the rapport he builds with the kids in the schools. He explained that he facilitates the various safety procedures to keep the students and teachers safe. This should be very reassuring for all of you that have students in our school.

The officer that works with search and rescue (SAR) made a presentation on all the situations they help with. Most of which help save lives. The extraordinary quality and commitment of the volunteers is amazing.

We then heard from the officer that works with drug enforcement and all that this entails. It was scary the amount of drug trafficking through Central Oregon. He explained all the different drugs, how they are manufactured and packaged.

We then saw the dogs in action. Wow, what they are trained to help apprehend criminals and keep the officers safe. It was amazing.

I would strongly recommend that everyone attend this program the next time it’s offered. I was surprised at how few folks attended. We need to show our support for what they do to “keep us safe,” which was the theme of the program.

We need to give a great big thank you to all the officers that gave up their free time to come to Sisters and give us a great program.

Doug Wills

Housing crisis and all that

To the Editor:

I was not able to attend the forum on housing at the Fire District Community Hall on May 5. All I know about it is what I read in The Nugget. It appears that no attempt was made to define “housing crisis.” Nor was any data provided on exactly who, by category and number, faced a crisis.

Here are some observations. Housing will always be expensive in desirable places, of which Sisters is only one. That does not equate to a housing crisis. There is no lack of houses for sale in the Sisters area. If one sells his home in Portland or San Francisco, is flush with cash and wishes to move to Sisters, that is irrelevant to a housing crisis. If one wishes to purchase a second or vacation home in the Sisters area, that is also irrelevant. If one wishes to purchase an investment home in the Sisters area, rent it out and later flip it, ditto. The “housing crisis” in Sisters is relevant chiefly to some workers who do not wish to commute there and to some local public employees. The “housing crisis” is thus an issue for only a very small portion of the population. And there are remedies for them. Employers should pay their workers more. If they pass the cost of this on to their customers, that is fine. As for public employees, they should be given a cost-of-living adjustment just like the ones Federal employees receive when they have to live in high-cost areas.

In short, it seems to me that the “housing crisis” is largely hype and a false issue. It raises the question, of course, of who benefits. Because Sisters is a desirable place to live, it is clearly to the advantage of developers to exploit it (couched, of course, in their usual bromides). Let us not forget the “Laird Superfood” fiasco in which the City Council was bamboozled by associates of Laird to agree to the Woodlands project in order to provide housing for Laird employees. Well, Laird went bust and the project went ahead anyway with sales at market rates. It would be interesting to know who is purchasing the units. Have these units resolved a “crisis” for anyone?

Now, there is a silver lining in the high cost of housing in Sisters. It limits explosive population growth. Imagine if the median cost of a house was suddenly reduced from $700,000 to $300,000. If thousands of people decided to move here, the pressure on infrastructure, water, the urban growth boundary, and the like would be catastrophic and the desirability of the area would plummet. Better a Jackson Hole or Aspen than a Beaverton. Bend provides an object lesson to members of the Sisters City Council who fret about a mostly non-existent “housing crisis.” There, rampant development has done little to lower the cost of housing while creating a mess. A friend who has recently moved away from Bend has described it, not uncharitably, as a growing carbuncle on the derriere of Central Oregon. Is this the future of Sisters?

Gary Leiser


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