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OR: Environmentalists Withdraw From ‘Broken’ Oregon Wolf Plan Negotiations

by Tony Schick

Environmental groups have withdrawn from an effort to update Oregon’s plan for managing gray wolves days before a final meeting of stakeholders, throwing the future of negotiations over wolf management and protections into question.

Ranchers, hunters and wolf conservation advocates have been in talks with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife over an update to the rules governing the protection and management of the state’s wolf population, including when and how wolves can be killed.

But Oregon Wild, Defenders of Wildlife, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity are now pulling out of the process and plan to oppose the state’s plan, according to a joint letter filed with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office.

“We feel the process is so broken and the plan is so bad that there really isn’t a purpose for us to show up to this next meeting,” said Oregon Wild Executive Director Sean Stevens. “We know the direction they’re trying to go and it’s not trying to find an honest consensus around the plan.”

Stevens said any of the conservationists’ suggestions, regardless of how ranchers and hunters received them, were dismissed by the state as either too costly or too complex. Specifically, wolf advocates took issue with the notion that two livestock attacks within either a nine-month or 12-month period could be considered chronic depredation, which triggers plans to kill the culprit wolves.

Remaining stakeholders represented are the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Oregon Farm Bureau, the Oregon Hunters Association and the Oregon Cattlemen.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife convened stakeholders at the request of Brown, after the agency’s draft for a new wolf plan last year was met with significant criticism — much of it from the same environmentalists now withdrawing from the process.

The next meeting of the wolf plan stakeholders is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Monarch Hotel and Conference Center in Clackamas.