Wolves Still Concentrated in Northeast Oregon, More Growth Key to Recovery
PORTLAND, Ore.— Oregon’s wolf population increased by 13 confirmed animals from 124 to 137 animals in 2018, according to a report released today by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. There are also four new packs, for a total of 16.
“We’re thrilled to see more wolves and more wolf packs in Oregon,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re working with the state to ensure nonlethal methods of reducing livestock loss are prioritized over killing wolves. If nonlethal measures are used, the wolf population will continue to grow, including in western Oregon, where wolves are just beginning to return.”
On a less positive note, the report documents seven known wolf mortalities in 2018, including six caused by people. Those include three Pine Creek Pack wolves killed by state wildlife managers. Two others were killed by poachers, and one young wolf died after being trapped and radio-collared, likely because of starvation due to a foot injury. In addition, all but two packs are concentrated in northeastern Oregon, which is a small fraction of the wolf’s original range in the state.
“Even with these increases, gray wolves remain far from recovered in Oregon or across the U.S.,” Greenwald said. “Given their continued endangered status, we hate to see the state kill wolves, particularly since the science shows non-lethal measures are more effective at reducing livestock losses and ranchers are compensated for any losses that do occur.”
In 2015 the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission removed wolves from the state endangered species list — even though Oregon’s wolves are still absent from nearly 90 percent of the state’s suitable habitat. A lawsuit by the Center and Cascadia Wildlands challenging the state delisting is pending.
Gray wolves remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in western Oregon, for now. The Trump administration has proposed removing protection despite the small number of wolves in western Oregon and elsewhere in their range.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife will present its annual wolf report at the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s April 19 meeting in St. Helens.