Gray Wolf, © Joan Poor

A Tragic Blow to Oregon’s Wolves

It was standing room only at the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s meeting in the taxidermy-adorned ODFW headquarters in Salem. The only topic on the agenda for the day-long meeting? Whether Oregon’s 81 confirmed wolves should be stripped of protections under the state endangered species act.

After months of heated debate, this was the public’s last chance to provide input to the commission before a decision was made on whether to delist wolves statewide. Oregon residents — 106 of whom signed up to give testimony — packed the room. While there were many remarks from residents who don’t support keeping wolves on the state’s endangered species list, the majority of folks present, including Defenders’ staff, came to tell the commission that a state delisting for Oregon’s fragile wolf population was incredibly premature. In addition to the testimony at Monday’s meeting, the commission received more than 22,000 comment letters from the public opposing a state delisting of wolves. Indeed, most recent polling shows that over 66 percent of Oregonians want to see wolves continue to recover in the state.

Unfortunately, in a precedent-setting move, the commission voted to remove state protections for wolves. No other species has been removed from the state’s endangered species list with a population of fewer than 100 individuals statewide, or when they were still absent from a significant portion of their historic range.Noble Wolf, © Larry Gambon

Headlines this year touting wolves’ continued expansion have warmed the hearts of conservationists nationwide. Wolves from Oregon even made the long journey south into the Golden State where the species has been absent for over 90 years. But, keep in mind, the progress wolves have made in Oregon is precisely because Oregon has remained committed to responsible wolf management, prioritizing the use of preventative measures to manage potential livestock-wolf conflict, instead of quickly resorting to killing wolves.

One of the many issues we take with the commission’s decision is that it was made before wildlife managers and stakeholders had the opportunity to review and update Oregon’s wolf management plan. This plan, drafted in 2005 and extended in 2010, is overdue for its required five-year review. Without certainty in the plan, delisting could make it easier for wildlife officials to use lethal control to manage livestock-wolf conflict instead of prioritizing non-lethal tools.

As Defenders newest staff member in Oregon, I will work tirelessly for wolf conservation. And, my first focus will be working with Oregon’s wildlife managers to ensure that precautionary and protective measures for wolves remain in any revision to the wolf management plan. It’s critical that any changes to the plan keep guidelines in place for using non-lethal conflict avoidance tools, like livestock guard dogs or fencing, to reduce potential livestock-wolf conflicts. The single greatest threat to wolf recovery is human impacts, particularly poor management when it comes to livestock-wolf conflicts. It will be equally important that any update to the plan includes a prohibition on any sport hunting or trapping of wolves, which at this time would certainly keep this fragile population’s from continuing to recover.

The commission should also uphold its promise to work with the Oregon legislature to increase penalties for poaching a wolf. Recent headlines show that a hunter who killed a wolf in Baker City was charged with two Class A misdemeanors: one for taking the life of a threatened or endangered species, and a second for hunting without a big game tag. If wolves are to continue their recovery, it will be essential that the commission and the Oregon legislature stand firm on penalties for poaching like they’ve done here, and that the state’s fish and game agency continue its efforts to educate residents about wolves presence in Oregon, the protections that apply, and how to tell the difference between wolves and coyotes.

This delisting decision is certainly a setback to continued wolf recovery in the state, but we’re not giving up. Oregon can continue its role in the success story that is the recovery of the wolf in the American west. But to keep this success story going, Oregon will need clear guidelines in place for managing wolves in the state. There’s work to be done, and we’re rolling up our sleeves to make sure Oregon’s 81 wolves get the chance they deserve to thrive throughout their historic range.

Red Wolves in Trouble

The FWS continues to rely on a flawed program to protect these struggling wolves, and the results have been heartbreaking. We’re filing suit in federal court to compel FWS to reverse these endangered wolves’ rapid slide toward extinction in the wild.

Join the Fight »

19 Responses to “A Tragic Blow to Oregon’s Wolves”

  1. Tricia Wardlaw

    Our wolves are essential to the American landscape, and we all need to raise our voices and let politicians know that we want them to be protected. It is up to all of us to support science based management and learn to coexist with wolves in rural areas. It is us who must make the changes to allow wolves back into the landscape. Thank you for your efforts in Oregon. California needs Oregon to maintain protections for wolves so that populations can return to all of the historic range of this essential keystone predator. Save our wolves!

  2. Cheryl

    “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

    • Nikki Garcia

      I couldn’t have said that any better myself. My friend this is so so very true.

  3. tracy rogers

    there is never a moral or righteous to allow the extinction of any of Earth’s God’s creatures. Use your power to do the right thing for once.

  4. Ava Mareno Farmer

    Disgusting stupidity in FWS to delist animals that need protection in place so they can recover in their natural habitats!

  5. Ava Mareno Farmer

    I won’t change a word of exactly how I feel about this issue!

  6. Maria Deutsch

    Please, let’save those wonderful animals! This is horrible! Please, let’s save those wolves!

  7. Jacqueline Best

    It our responsibility to undo the harm that WE human beings have done. Please save the Wolves.

  8. HHarke

    1. Wolves are not essential for the American landscape. Only essential for liberals who do not have to deal with the aftereffects.

    2. Did you tell the wolves it is bad to kill livestock? Did you warn them of the timeouts?

    3. Yes, CA is the model to follow. Look at the mountain lions now stalking CA neighborhoods, killing pets and joggers. Great example of the libtard mindset.

    • Arlene

      I have a Great Pyrenees guard dog that will be happy to protect your livestock, your pet, AND your jogger. .

    • Coasttheo

      1. Assuming for discussion purposes you are correct, then there are hundreds of species “not essential for the American landscape” including humans. Should we let them all go extinct?

      2. Did you ask the livestock if they wanted to be turned out among wolves? Did you warn them there are no timeouts? Did you tell them you plan on killing them when you are ready to profit from their deaths?

      3. Did you know that playground name calling is childish? Are you aware that many conservatives support wolf (and other species) recovery?

  9. Linda Hicks

    You must save the wolves. Protect the any way possible. They are part of the delicate balance of the predator pray animals and part of the landscape. Their numbers are still low.Please reconsider…protect the wolves. Save them from hunters and wolf haters. They need Federal protection.

    • Carter

      Maybe if people did not move into animal habitat and wildlife lands there would not be a problem! People want to move into unpopulated areas to enjoy nature but then when nature is not as pretty as they think it should be they want it removed or eliminated, and that cannot be tolerated!

  10. Peter Slaney

    It is sad to see the continued destruction of Gods creation. Man has been given the responsibility to preserve and protect our wildlife and wild lands. Wolves are a vital link as are all apex predators to healthy ecosystems which in turn effects our own existence.

    Without healthy populations of all predators our wild lands, waterways, birds, rodents, herbivores, fish, flora and fauna, all of creation suffers, including man. It is all connected to depths that man just does not understand.

    The destruction of wolves in Yellowstone are a perfect example of what happens to a fully intact ecosystem when you destroy something that belongs. Here is a link to a video on how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone literally changed the rivers and everything around. https://youtu.be/ysa5OBhXz-Q

    We must protect what we have left! It is the responsibility of all man to do so, even more so the people who have been blessed with positions and knowledge in our wildlife departments. We do need to manage wildlife to maintain healthy populations of all wildlife for man has a large footprint on this earth, but with that comes responsibility. A responsibility to protect the shrinking wild spaces and to reintroduce wildlife that has been eliminated in places they once roamed.

    Many people react out of fear and lack of knowledge. If you choose to live near and explore wild places educate yourself on the creatures out there and how too deal with them, how to walk in there home lands and what to do when you do encounter them. They are not out to get you.

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