FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oregon Wolf Gunned Down in Idaho
Oregon conservationists lament killing, highlight contrasting approaches to wolf management and wildlife conservation.
As wolf recovery gets back on track in Oregon, the recently endangered species isn't faring as well in neighboring states.
OR-16 was photographed by ODFW in November, 2012 as a healthy yearling. He was killed by hunters in Idaho on January 19th. (photo courtesy ODFW)
Various sources have confirmed that an Oregon wolf known to biologists as OR-16 was killed Saturday near Lowman, Idaho. The wolf was fitted with a tracking collar by state biologists after being accidentally trapped last November. The 85-pound yearling male was in good health and later found to be a member of the Walla Walla Pack.
In December, OR-16 crossed the border into Idaho. He became the second Oregon wolf to be killed as part of that state’s recreational hunt. As of Wednesday, 958 wolves have been killed in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as part of recreational hunting and trapping season aimed at dramatically reducing the population of the recently endangered species. Wyoming’s wolf plan allows an unlimited number of wolves to be killed by any means in the majority of the state.
Last February, just weeks after the world celebrated the epic travels of Journey (OR-7), his littermate (OR-9) crossed the Snake River and was illegally shot by a hunter who was issued a warning for the poaching. Other notable wolves including well-known Yellowstone National Park animals have been killed as part of the hunts.
The announcement comes on the heels of great news for Oregon’s wolves as the state announced last week that Oregon’s known wolf population had increased to at least 53 animals and as many as five breeding pairs. [This number was later revised to 46 by state officials]
In 2012, Oregon’s wolf killing program was under a court-ordered hold. With the state not killing endangered wolves, many responsible livestock owners increased efforts at reducing conflict. As a result the population of wolves nearly doubled while losses to wolves were nearly cut in half.
Despite the good news, conservationists caution that wolf recovery in Oregon remains tenuous. Nearly half the state’s wolves are pups less than a year old. Many will not survive the winter. Additionally, due to the harsh management of wolves in neighboring states, Oregon can no longer count on healthy populations to boost recovery here.
Below is a statement from Rob Klavins, Wildlands & Wildlife Advocate for Oregon Wild.
"When Journey arrived in California he was celebrated as an international conservation success story. When his brother returned to Idaho he was greeted by a hail of bullets and illegally killed. Tragically another Oregon wolf has followed in his footsteps - this time killed legally. It's a stark reminder of why it's so important we get things right in Oregon.
"America has come a long way since we feared the myth of the big bad wolf and purposely tried to eliminate entire species from the landscape. When bald eagles and gray whales were removed from federal protections, everyone celebrated. When wolves were stripped of their protections as part of a political deal in 2011, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming celebrated by opening recreational killing seasons that have now claimed nearly 1,000 wolves - more than half of the known population in the Western United States.
"It's particularly sad that this comes on the heels of Oregon's great news that recovery is getting back on track and conflict is decreasing. In a country that values native wildlife, pushing recently endangered species back to the brink isn’t good for anyone. It's certainly not good for wolves."
UPDATE: ODFW adjusted the 2012 wolf population estimate down to 46 wolves after discovering some wolves had been double-counted.