FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Is ODFW Supporting Wolf Poaching?
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to share stage with poaching advocates just days after another criminal incident announced
Conservation groups question state support of anti-wolf event featuring some of the most radical anti-wildlife voices in the country.
Oregon is home to 30 confirmed wolves whose recovery remains tenuous. This Wenaha Pack wolf was killed in the fall of 2010 by a poacher who was never brought to justice (photo courtesy ODFW)
A day after Oregon law enforcement agencies announced what appears to be another criminal wolf poaching; conservation groups sent a letter to Governor Kitzhaber urging him to block ODFW employees from representing the state at an anti-wolf conference later this month. The event, sponsored by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Oregon Hunters Association, includes several speakers who have publicly advocated the illegal killing of gray wolves and other wildlife.
“ODFW is the agency charged with enforcing fish and game laws in our state.” observed Rob Klavins, Wildlife Advocate with the conservation group Oregon Wild. “Should they really be using scarce Oregon tax dollars to support an event where they will share the stage with activists who openly advocate breaking the laws they are charged with enforcing?”
A list of planned speakers at the event, dubbed a “wolf symposium”, include:
Bridges has publicly blogged about killing endangered species, recipes for home-made poisons that can be used for killing wolves and other wildlife, and violating fish and wildlife conservation laws. He has recently described those who illegally kill wolves as “wildlife patriots” and wolves as a “wildlife pestilence…likened to a cancer”.
The former NASCAR Executive and current CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was recently quoted in the Bend Bulletin calling for the gassing of wolf pups in their dens in order to make it easier for human hunters to fill their elk tags. For the same reason, he has also called for the killing of endangered grizzly bears in the Northern Rockies.
Mealey served briefly as State Director of Idaho Fish & Game before being dismissed for misconduct and public obscenity. He went on record stating that any employee who worked for him and supported federal protection of wildlife should “find a different place to work”.
A number of endangered gray wolves have been illegally killed in Oregon and Washington over the last several years. The most recent case was announced yesterday, after months of investigation by the Oregon State Police. ODFW is yet to bring charges against anyone in this or any other wolf poaching incidents in Oregon. Last month, a plea-bargain arrangement resolved criminal charges over a wolf-poaching near Twisp, WA that is believed to have wiped out an entire pack of the endangered animals.
“ODFW needs to be sending a signal of zero tolerance for poachers and others who break fish and wildlife conservation laws,” said Wildlife Advocate Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild. “By supporting this event, they are giving a nod and a wink to those who would illegally shoot endangered wildlife in Oregon.”
The agency is currently barred from killing wolves after a legal challenge of the state’s wolf killing program. The Oregon Wolf Conservation Plan also includes requirements for public education and conflict prevention. The letter applauded some state efforts to promote meaningful dialogue, but the groups have also expressed concerns that the agency continues to bend to political pressure rather than focus on conservation and education.
Conservationists reached out to the agency weeks ago with concerns about the event, but were rebuffed. “Sharing the stage with radical anti-wolf activists is a slap in the face to the vast majority of Oregonians who value native wildlife and want to see wolf recovery, not more killing,” said Klavins.
“It’s our understanding that a prominent anti-wolf organization told ODFW to go, and that’s why they’re attending,” Klavins said. “It’s important to educate the public about wolves, but this is not an education event, it is an anti-wolf rally. ODFW should not be using Oregonians tax dollars to encourage poaching.”