Wolf Recovery in Area Still Dependent on Endangered Species Protection
PORTLAND, Ore.— Six pups were born this year to Oregon’s White River wolf pack, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday. A video of the two-to-three-month-old wolf pups howling back and forth with their parents was captured on a trail camera by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, whose reservation is within the pack’s home territory.
“It’s thrilling to hear the call of the wild from these adorable wolf puppies, in a part of Oregon that’s been missing this vibrant sound for more than 70 years,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But if we want these wonderful animals to survive and flourish, we have to stop the Trump administration from putting an end to their Endangered Species Act protection.”
In March the Trump administration issued a proposal to strip wolves of federal protections in Oregon and across almost the entire nation. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has sent a letter to federal officials indicating that the state of Oregon officially opposes the proposed delisting. A public comment period on the proposal ends on July 15.
“The return of wolves to western Oregon is very much in its infancy, and these new pups are a cherished addition,” said Weiss. “Fortunately, they’re in a part of the state where wolves are still protected under federal law, and the survival of wolves here depends on those protections remaining in place.”
Oregon’s wolf population as of the end of 2018 was estimated by the state wildlife agency to be 137 individuals in 16 packs, with a total of 15 breeding pairs. Most packs reside in northeast Oregon. Only two packs, the Rogue pack and White River pack reside west of highways 97/20/395.
The Rogue pack inhabits Jackson and Klamath counties, while the White River pack ranges in Wasco and Clackamas counties and on the Warm Springs reservation. An additional set of three wolves traveling together in the Indigo Game Management Unit in Lane and Douglas counties was confirmed this year, and a lone wolf lives in Lake County.
Wolves in Oregon once roamed statewide but were killed off to appease agricultural interests, with bounty records showing that Oregon’s last known wolf was killed in 1947. In 1999 wolves from Idaho began to make their way into Oregon, and the state’s first pack was confirmed in 2008. Wolves lost state endangered species act protection statewide in 2015, and a lawsuit brought by the Center and allies challenging that action is still pending in court. Wolves lost federal protection in eastern Oregon in 2011 through an act of Congress, and though the western two-thirds of the state still retain federal protection, that protection is at risk from the pending Trump administration delisting proposal.