State reinstates white wolf sanctuary road kill use permit
By Joel Gallob Of the News-Times
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday that it is reinstating the permit held by Lois Tulleners, owner and manager of the White Wolf Sanctuary at Tidewater, had, since 1998. The permit allows her to take road killed animals as food for her wolves.
“The agency has decided that we did not give the public a real opportunity for participating in any sort of rule-making regarding the disposition of road kill and inedible wildlife,” district wildlife biologist Doug Cottam told the News-Times Monday afternoon.
He said ODFW will conduct a review during the next year. “The public will be welcomed to participate in that process; we’ll have a much bigger, much better, public process,” he said. “And in the meantime, we will restore Lois’ permit for the road kill – we’ll write up a new permit for her. It will take a couple days to write it up.”
In addition to the White Wolf Sanctuary, a second wolf sanctuary on the Siuslaw River will have its permit reinstated as well, Cottam said.
He added that ODFW “will not issue any more such permits till we complete the public review and the whole process.”
Tulleners received a permit for the retrieval of dead deer and elk from public roads, and purchased a winch system with which to haul onto her pickup the carcasses. After she was told that her permit was being pulled, several state and local government agencies contacted ODFW to protest the decision.
Chris Wheaton, regional manager for ODFW, said the decision to remove the permit was not based on the sanctuary’s profit or non-profit status, according to a March 12, 2004 letter to Tulleners. “The decision was made because it was decided that allowing the use of a public resource (deer and elk) to benefit a non-public entity is not an appropriate use of the state’s wildlife resources,” Wheaton said.
About 180 Arctic white wolves are left in the world, free or in captivity. Six of them are kept alive at the sanctuary, 1,000 feet up in the Coast Range above Tidewater.
The Arctic wolf (canis lupus arctos), as well as the eastern gray wolf (canis lupus lycaon), Great Plains Wolf (canis lupus nubilius), Mexican Wolf (canis lupus baileyi) and Rocky Mountain Wolf (canis lupus occidentalis) are all subspecies of the gray wolf, Tulleners said.
The gray wolf subspecies were once widely dispersed and highly successful predators throughout nearly all of the North American continent. After two centuries of being hunted as threats to livestock, the wolves were placed on the endangered species list. In 1995 and 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a reintroduction program for them in central Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park. Three of the Idaho wolves, all with identifying collars, made it to Oregon, where one was hit by a truck and died, one was shot, and the third was returned twice to Idaho, and after that, disappeared, presumably losing its collar.
The reintroduced populations, called “nonessential experimental populations,” are not subject to the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
Last year, the federal government reclassified the gray wolves throughout the lower 48 states, and dropped them from “endangered” to “threatened,” with the resulting amount of protection dropping as well. Nine western states, including Oregon, Washington and Idaho, reduced protections for the wolves as a result.
The White Wolf Sanctuary has 60 acres, 45 of them enclosed with high fences. It opened in 1998, and received first an Oregon Department of Agriculture license and then a U.S. Department of Agriculture license. State field veterinarian Michael Daly signed the state “Exotic Animal Facility Inspection Report,” dated 6-17-98, and wrote that White Wolf Sanctuary was the “best facility” he knew about.
The Oregon Department of Transportation opposed the permit removal by ODFW, Tulleners said. So, too, did the Oregon State Police, and the Lincoln County Road Department had also been unhappy with the earlier decision.
Tulleners, shortly after hearing from Cottam, said “I’m just amazed; I’m blown away by all the help that I’ve gotten. I can’t possibly thank everyone – the people who called, who wrote the agency to protest. And (State Representative) Alan Brown (R-Newport). He was wonderful.
“I’m so happy,” she added. “I’ve got to go out and tell the wolves they’re getting their nutrition back.”