Oregon Strips State Endangered Species Protections From Gray Wolves

Decision Counter to Science, State Law

Mt. Emily wolf Mount Emily wolf photo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

PORTLAND, Ore.—(ENEWSPF)–November 10, 2015.  Ignoring state law, as well as experts who say that Oregon’s wolves are not yet recovered, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission yesterday voted to strip gray wolves of state endangered species act protections. The commission based its decision on a controversial Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife report that leading scientists have characterized as severely flawed. The Center for Biological Diversity and allies vowed to challenge the decision in state court.

“With just 80 or so wolves in the entire state, gray wolves are nowhere near recovery,” said Amaroq Weiss, the Center’s West Coast wolf organizer. “Wolves deserve a real chance at recovery. I’m deeply disappointed the commission decided to blatantly ignore the science, the law and the will of the majority of Oregonians.”

Wolves were once widely distributed throughout Oregon but were eradicated from the state by a government-sponsored effort and a bounty system on behalf of livestock operators. In 1999 a wolf from Idaho made her way into the state, soon followed by several other wolves from Idaho, most of which were illegally shot and killed. The commission adopted a state wolf conservation and management plan in 2005 and in 2008 the state’s first breeding pair was confirmed. Recent estimates by state officials estimate the current population at around just 80 animals; these animals live in only 12 percent of what researchers have identified as suitable wolf habitat in Oregon, with nearly the entire wolf population located in the northeastern portion of the state. 

“There’s simply no science to support the conclusion that 80 wolves is a recovered population,” said Weiss. “This is a purely political decision made at the behest of livestock and hunting interests. Oregonians expect more from their state government than kowtowing to narrow special interests.”

The Department’s chief argument for delisting is that leaving wolves listed could result in a decline in social tolerance for the species, but this assumption has been debunked by multiple peer-reviewed papers reporting that removing protections for wolves elsewhere has had the opposite effect.

“The Commission’s decision ignored the most current science and has now placed these exquisite animals at greater risk of being killed,” said Weiss. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Source: www.biologicaldiversity.org