09
February
2016
|
07:01 PM
America/New_York

Good, bad and ugly: Wolf bills move through Oregon legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: February 9, 2016

Contact: Melanie Gade, 202-772-0288

Good, bad and ugly: Wolf bills move through Oregon legislature

SALEM, Ore. – Two bills pertaining to wolf management in Oregon gained traction this week in Oregon’s legislature after meeting several procedural requirements. The first bill (HB4046) would increase penalties for poaching a wolf, while the second (HB4040), would legislatively delist wolves from the state endangered species act. Today, both bills passed out of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and will now be voted on the House floor.

House Bill 4040 takes the unprecedented step of legislatively delisting wolves from the state endangered species act. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, which voted to delist wolves in November, has exclusive statutory authority to make listing decisions about imperiled wildlife. Legislative “ratification” of the delisting decision is not only unnecessary -- it risks eroding the commission’s authority to effectively manage wildlife in Oregon.

In response, Quinn Read, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement

“This bill is simply bad policy – not just for wolves, but for all of Oregon’s imperiled wildlife. This opens the door for the legislature to make politically driven decisions about the fate of imperiled animals across Oregon.

“Important decisions about whether to list or delist species should be based on science, not politics. HB 4040 sets a dangerous precedent for legislative meddling in decisions about listing or delisting species”

House Bill 4046 increases poaching penalties for certain animals, including wolves. The bill would make unlawful taking or killing of wolves subject to a $7500 penalty, similar to the penalties applied for black bear and cougar. Currently, poaching a wolf has a maximum penalty of a $6,250 fine and confinement to the county jail for one year. The Fish and Wildlife Commission requested that this penalty be increased when it delisted wolves from the state ESA on Nov. 9, 2015.

In response, Quinn Read, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement

“As wolves continue to recover and disperse to new areas in Oregon, state wildlife agencies must increase efforts to educate hunters and local communities about the potential presence of wolves, their status as a federally protected species in western Oregon, and how to tell the difference between wolves and coyotes. Increasing penalties is a meaningful deterrent against unlawful wolf killing and is essential to wolves’ continued recovery in Oregon.”

Background: With fewer than 100 known wolves in the entire state, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 last November to remove gray wolves from the state list of endangered species. Oregon’s Endangered Species Act grants the commission exclusive authority to list, delist or relist species as threatened or endangered. Wolves are now delisted throughout Oregon under the state endangered species act and continue to be managed according to the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The commission and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are currently undertaking a required five-year review and update of the wolf plan.