Future of Oregon wolves proposed in draft management plan
For Immediate Release
PORTLAND, Ore. (Apr. 18, 2017) – This week the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will hear public comment on draft revisions to the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan (Wolf Plan). Last week the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) released a draft update to the Wolf Plan that—when finalized by the Commission—will determine how wolves in Oregon are managed for the next five or more years. This update comes at a critical time for wolf recovery – the number of wolf packs and breeding pairs declined in 2016, and large areas of suitable wolf habitat are still vacant.
Quinn Read, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“This draft Wolf Plan is just that, a draft. There are some promising proposals, but there are major red flags, like new provisions allowing hunters to kill wolves instead of requiring nonlethal deterrents to better protect livestock and coexist with wolves on public lands. These proposals could damage the fragile recovery of wolves in Oregon. We still have a lot of work to do, and Defenders will work hard to ensure the final version has the necessary protections for wolves to thrive in Oregon.”
While the draft Wolf Plan includes some promising developments, including formation of a citizen advisory group and clarification about how the agency will respond to population declines, there are several new proposals that could undermine wolf recovery in Oregon.
The draft Wolf Plan creates a special hunting and trapping permit, which would allow private citizens to carry out ODFW-sanctioned killing of wolves in cases of chronic depredation or declines in elk and deer populations.
It also lowers the bar regarding the wolf-livestock interactions that could lead to lethal removal – including allowing consideration of probable but unconfirmed depredations. Though the draft does not propose the imposition of wolf management zones or population caps at this time, it does call for a spatial population model to set the stage for such limits in future management plans.
The draft Wolf Plan contains little information on the potential impacts of poaching or strategies for increased enforcement.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold public informational hearings on the draft plan in Klamath Falls on April 21 and in Portland on May 19.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) voted to remove gray wolves from the state’s endangered species list in November 2015. This move hastened efforts to remove vital protections meant to promote recovery of this species. The 2016 wolf census, released with this draft plan, noted 112 wolves, only up two from 2015. There also was a decrease in the number of packs and breeding pairs in the state.
The wolf plan is supposed to be reviewed and updated every five years. The last review took place in 2010, though the plan was later revised in 2013 in response to a legal challenge. This review should have taken place in 2015. However, ODFW and the Commission elected to delay the update in favor of moving ahead with state delisting. Wolves in the state were officially delisted from the state Endangered Species Act in November 2015.
After delisting, the agency began the official review and update process for the Wolf Plan, which included several multi-stakeholder meetings. Defenders attended each of these meetings, and has strongly advocated for continued protections for wolves in detailed comments and testimony at Commission meetings.
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