By KALEB LAY The Observer
SALEM — Gray wolves are no longer protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, but they remain protected in Oregon.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally removed the gray wolf species from the endangered species list in the lower 48 United States, turning over management of the species in Oregon to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The known wolf population in the state has grown from 14 in 2009 to 158 at the end of 2019, with 141 of those found in the eastern management zone.
ODFW said in a press release that the most significant change to the management of Oregon’s wolves will be in the form of depredation. Lethal removal of a wolf by ODFW could be allowed in situations where nonlethal measures have proven unsuccessful.
Nonlethal and preventative measures for resolving conflicts with wolves will remain a focus for ODFW. It remains illegal to hunt or kill wolves in Oregon.
Fish and Wildlife encouraged livestock producers to visit their website to review preventative measures to limit conflicts with wolves and to sign up for updates on wolf-livestock conflicts.
“We thank all landowners in areas with wolves for going the extra mile to implement non-lethal measures over the past few years,” said ODFW Director Curt Melcher. “We know that regardless of whether or not you lose livestock to wolves, their presence requires changes to your business practices, and we thank you for taking these steps to reduce conflicts with wolves.”
Financial assistance for livestock producers who’ve lost animals to wolf conflicts or who wish to implement non-lethal measures to prevent those losses is available through the Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit oregon.gov/oda.