Census reveals struggling Oregon wolf population
For Immediate Release
PORTLAND, Ore. (Apr. 12, 2017) – Oregon’s 2016 wolf count was released yesterday by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The total number of wolves was 112, only up two from last year.
While the overall number seems to have stagnated, more concerning is that the number of breeding pairs has decreased. Breeding pairs are a critical metric of wolf recovery. In 2015, there were 11 breeding pairs, and that number fell to eight in 2016.
Quinn Read, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“We are saddened that wolf recovery seems to have stalled in the wake of delisting. What this count tells us is that we can’t take wolf recovery in Oregon for granted. With the proposed Oregon Wolf Management Plan revisions being presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission next week, we will be vigilant in advocating for the continued protection of wolves for all Oregonians.”
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to remove gray wolves from the state’s endangered species list in 2015. As of December 2015, there were only 110 wolves confirmed in the state. Defenders of Wildlife opposed delisting and requested that the agency first undertake its (then overdue) review and update of the wolf plan. When the Commission nevertheless voted to delist, it did so with the assurance that protections would remain in the wolf plan.
This count is considered a minimum population and includes only wolves that have been explicitly confirmed. A pack is defined as any four or more wolves traveling together in the winter. A breeding pair – which is the most important criterion when determining recovery of a population – is a male and female with at least two pups that survive through the end of the year.
Along with this year’s census came a draft version of the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. This plan will dictate how wolves are managed in Oregon for the next five years, and includes problematic provisions for hunting and trapping wolves to address conflict between wolves and livestock or other ungulates. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider public comments on the plan at its upcoming meetings on April 21 in Klamath Falls and on May 19 in Portland.
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