Today, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) released its annual wolf report, as well as a draft the revised Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.
“According to this report, 2016 was a bad year for wolves in Oregon,” said Conservation Director Steve Pedery. “Population growth stalled, and the number of breeding pairs and packs declined. This raises troubling questions about ODFW’s continuing drive to pursue hunting and trapping.”
Oregon is now home to 112 known wolves in 11 packs. 10 of these packs are in NE Oregon. OR-7’s Rogue Pack remains the only known wolf pack outside of NE Oregon.
2016 is the first full year gray wolves have not had state endangered species protections.
“In the years immediately before losing protections, Oregon’s wolf population expanded while livestock conflict went down,” said Rob Klavins, a Field Representative for Oregon Wild based in Wallowa County. “Unfortunately, as ODFW and special interests rushed to remove protections from wolves, not only did wolf recovery stall, but wolf killing and livestock conflict increased. While the wolf plan review offers an opportunity to put wolf recovery back on track, the unpopular ODFW proposal to allow the public to hunt and trap Oregon’s small wolf population for simply eating meat is a move in the wrong direction.”
19 Oregon Legislators sent a letter to ODFW last month opposing wolf hunting and trapping by the public as a management tool. A poll conducted the previous year of 800 Oregonians showed broad opposition to the idea. According to ODFW’s draft plan, wildlife officials could enlist the public to hunt and trap wolves.
Also mentioned in the report, there were seven known wolf deaths in Oregon, 4 of which were killed by the state. OR-28, a wolf dispersed from the Mt. Emily pack, was killed illegally by a poacher in October of last year in Lake County. She was believed to have had at least one pup with OR-3 and would have constituted only the second known breeding pair outside NE Oregon. There were no reports of natural mortality.
“With the likely poaching of OR-28, there is still only one known wolf pack established outside northeast Oregon - OR-7's Rogue Pack. Clearly, the illegal killing of a single wolf can be a huge setback,” said Oregon Wild Communications Manager Arran Robertson. “The only wolf deaths accounted for were those killed by people. At the same time ODFW is trying to make it easier to kill wolves, this report makes it clear that people killing wolves is the number one danger to a meaningful recovery.”
ODFW also announced an additional listening session in Portland for Friday, May 19th. The public will be able to comment on the wolf plan in person at that meeting.
“For the first time, ODFW will be providing an opportunity for people in the Portland area to comment on wolf conservation,” said Wildlife Policy Coordinator Danielle Moser. “Fish and wildlife belong to all Oregonians, not just those who fish and hunt. At a time when ODFW faces severe budget challenges, this is a positive step toward getting more of the public involved in the agency’s work. I encourage anyone who is available to raise their voice for wolves by testifying at the Commission hearing.”
This meeting will take place May 19th at the Embassy Suites near Portland International Airport.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to remove wolves from the state endangered species list when there were only approximately 80 known animals in the state. The legislature and Governor Brown approved legislation attempting to undercut judicial review of that decision. In a preliminary ruling, a judge allowed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the commission’s delisting decision to move forward.