PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has killed four members of the Harl Butte wolf pack and authorized killing two more from the Meacham pack after livestock deaths in northeast Oregon.
The decision has made calls from conservation groups even more urgent to revise the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The plan is slated for update every five years and was supposed to be revised in 2015. Groups are concerned the new plan in the works weakens protections and even could open the door to trophy hunting, said Aaron Tam, Pacific Northwest organizer for the Endangered Species Coalition.
“The lack of transparency in the current wolf plan creates confusion and conflict among stakeholders,” he said. “The governor needs to weigh in on this. Scientists don’t agree with the current revisions to the wolf plan.”
The Endangered Species Coalition is one of 18 groups that sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown last week, asking her to intervene in the northeast Oregon situation and calling for more public accountability on the management plan. The current state plan allows wolves to be killed if non-lethal methods aren’t successful in keeping them from livestock depredation.
Michael Nelson, a professor of environmental ethics and philosophy at Oregon State University, works with some of the scientists cited in the plan’s current draft.
“I know that at least one of my social-science colleagues feels like his work was pretty seriously misrepresented in the plan,” he said. “And I’ve spoken with my ecologist colleagues – they’re wolf ecologists – and they’re concerned with how their own work is represented in the plan, as well.”
According to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted last year, more than 70 percent of Oregonians only support killing wolves as a last resort. Tam said most simply don’t want to see wolves killed.
“Americans hunted them to the brink of extinction by 1960, and wolves are still missing from 90 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states,” he said. “We brought them back using the Endangered Species Act to see them flourish, and the new Wolf Conservation and Management Plan should reflect those values.”
The draft management plan is online at dfw.state.or.us, and the Mason-Dixon poll is at pacificwolves.org.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service – OR