Oregon Wolves Headed Towards Delisting? Seven years ago there was not a single wolf in Oregon. At last count at the end of 2013, there were more than 64 wolves in the state. Thanks to protections afforded by the state and federal Endangered Species Acts and Oregon’s strong state management plans, today wolves in Oregon are making a steady comeback. Preliminary counts of the state’s wolf population (official counts are expected in March) show that Oregon’s wolf population could have as many as four breeding pairs in the state – for the third year in a row. A “breeding pair” is a pair of adult wolves which produce at least two pups that survive to the end of each year, a strong indicator of the population’s overall health. But maintaining more than four breeding pairs for three consecutive years is one of the criteria that could trigger a delisting of gray wolves in Oregon under the state’s Endangered Species Act. Defenders is thrilled to see this population of wolves continue to recover, but just because one criterion for state delisting has been met (i.e. the number of breeding pairs), Oregon shouldn’t automatically remove wolves from the list of state protected species. There are several criteria, such as whether the rules governing the management of wolves offer enough protection, that need to be evaluated before experts can determine if wolves can safely be removed from the state endangered species list. Defenders will continue to encourage Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a neutral and unbiased status review once any of the criteria have been met to assess the wolves’ overall population health in Oregon.
Anti-Wolf Bills Proposed in Washington State. Public hearings in the Washington State legislature next Thursday February 5th could mean big problems for Washington’s wolf management plan. Both the House and the Senate are considering a series of bills that could severely undercut how wolf recovery is governed going forward. Five separate bills will be heard by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that would weaken protections for wolves in the state, including one to authorize increased lethal control of wolves and another to delist wolves in large portions of the state. Just next door, the Natural Resources and Parks Committee in the state senate will consider a companion bill that would also authorize delisting wolves in much of the state. If you are a local resident, tell your Representative that you oppose these bills, and if you live close to Olympia, come out and testify next Thursday at these 1:30pm public hearings! The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearings will be held in Hearing Room B in the John L. O’Brien Building. The Senate hearing will take place at the same time and will be held in Senate Hearing Room 1 in the J.A. Cherberg Building.