Conservationists Criticize Precedent Setting State Wolf Delisting


November 9, 2015


The state of Oregon has just stripped wolves of all protections under the state’s endangered species law. Below is the statement that we sent out immediately following the decision in an effort to bring national attention to this important issue.

This premature decision could lead to needless wolf deaths and could slow or halt Oregon’s fragile wolf recovery.

Defenders of Wildlife says the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision today to remove state endangered species protections for wolves is premature and would likely lead to slowed or stopped wolf recovery in the state. No other species has been removed from the state’s endangered species list with a population of fewer than 100 individuals statewide or when they were still absent from a significant portion of their historic range.

Shawn Cantrell, Defenders of Wildlife’s northwest director, testified at today’s meeting and issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed to see the Fish and Wildlife Commission approve a state delisting of wolves when only the barest minimum requirements have been met. The better and more cautious alternative would have been to downlist wolves from endangered to threatened and not delist them entirely. This would have continued to provide vital state protections for wolves, while also recognizing the progress the state has made to recover wolves in the eastern part of the state. More importantly, it would have left wolves fully protected in the western part of Oregon, where they are only just starting to expand and are in the earliest stages of recovery.

“Unfortunately, the commission decided to prematurely delist wolves without first updating and amending the Oregon Wolf Management Plan, which is overdue for a planned update. It will be critical that any subsequent revision of the plan maintains protocols for using non-lethal conflict avoidance tools, like livestock guarding dogs or fencing, to reduce potential livestock-wolf conflicts.

“Oregon recently has been a real leader emphasizing non-lethal conflict management between livestock and wolves so that wolves can continue their recovery in the state. Given the commission’s decision on delisting today, it will be all the more critical for Oregon to continue to emphasize and promote non-lethal strategies for allowing wolves and livestock to coexist on the same landscapes.

ODFW report says Oregon has met criteria to delist wolves

By Eric Mortenson

Capital Bureau

Published:October 8, 2015 2:27PM
Last changed:October 8, 2015 5:37PM

Courtesy of ODFW
A 100-pound adult male wolf was GPS radio-collared in the Mount Emily unit on May 25, 2014. Taking wolves off Oregon’s endangered species list won’t significantly affect their management because the state wolf plan would remain in place, according to a biological status review that will be presented to the state wildlife commission on Oct. 9.

SALEM — Taking wolves off Oregon’s endangered species list won’t significantly affect their management because the state wolf plan would remain in place, according to a biological status review that will be presented to the state wildlife commission on Friday.

Taking no action on the delisting question, however, might undermine support for the 10-year-old wolf plan and “thereby reducing public tolerance for wolves,” the report concludes.

The report compiled by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists says the state’s wolf population continues to increase in “abundance and distribution” and has met the required criteria for delisting in every instance.

Discussion of the report at Friday’s commission meeting in Florence, Ore., is billed as an informational biological status review, with no action scheduled. But it could provide a preview of the commission’s ultimate decision when it meets again Nov. 9 in Salem.

It also coincides with controversy over ODFW’s refusal to authorize killing Mount Emily Pack wolves that repeatedly attacked a sheep herd this summer, and with the unsolved deaths of two wolves known as the Sled Springs Pair.

To take wolves off the state endangered species, the commission must make five findings. They are: Wolves aren’t in danger of extinction in any portion of their range; their natural reproductive potential is not in danger of failing; there’s no imminent or active deterioration of their range or primary habitat; the species or its habitat won’t be “over-utilized” for scientific, recreational, commercial or educational reasons; and existing state or federal regulations are adequate to protect them.

Each of the criteria is examined in depth in the report. “The probability of population failure is very low,” the biologists concluded.

Wolves in Northeast Oregon have been taken off the federal endangered species list but remain on the state list. The federal listing still applies in the rest of the state, including where the famous traveling wolf, OR-7, resides with his pack in the Southwest Oregon Cascades.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced 66 gray wolves into Idaho and Wyoming in 1995-96. As expected, a few Idaho wolves migrated to Northeast Oregon beginning in 1999. Oregon’s first pack, the Wenaha, was documented in 2008.

Other highlights of the report:

• Oregon’s wolf population as of July is a minimum of 85 individuals in 16 packs or groups, up from 81 wolves at the end of 2014. Biologists believe more wolves live in the state but only 85 are documented. The number does not include pups born this year.

• The population will surpass 100 to 150 wolves in the next one to three years, “regardless of listed status.”

• Wolves now use 12.4 percent of their potential range statewide, 31.6 percent in Eastern Oregon.

• From 2009 through June 2015, confirmed losses to wolves stood at 79 sheep, 37 cattle, two goats and two herd protection dogs. Ranchers believe wolves are responsible for much more damage, saying livestock often disappear in wolf country.

• No wolves have been killed while attacking or chasing livestock. Since 2009, ODFW has killed four for “chronic” livestock attacks, but none since 2011. At least five wolves have been illegally shot since 2000; one died in an ODFW capture attempt in 2011; one was hit and killed by a vehicle in 2000

Oregon Wildlife Officials Won’t Allow Killing of Wolves

Oregon Wildlife Officials Won't Allow Killing of Wolves

Wildlife officials won’t allow people to kill wolves in eastern Oregon’s Mount Emily pack despite five confirmed attacks on a sheep herd this summer.

Jeremy Bingham of Utopia Land and Livestock formally requested permission to kill the animals that he says are “massacring” his sheep, reported the East Oregonian, but the department turned him down.

The pack killed at least seven sheep and a guard dog in June and August, but the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife said non-lethal control measures have worked since the last attack, according to department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy.

Although the state wolf recovery plan allows “lethal control” of wolves after two confirmed livestock losses, non-lethal measures must prove unsuccessful before killings are authorized. In this case, wolves have not killed any livestock on the property since the end of August, Dennehy said. Bingham did not request lethal control until nearly a month after the last livestock attack, she added.

The wolves also have to be present routinely on the property and propose a significant risk to livestock for the state to authorize killing them. In this case, Dennehy said, the wolves have moved to the central and southern part of the range, and the sheep are in the northeastern edge.

In addition, Dennehy said, the seasonal use on the rancher’s grazing allotment ends Oct. 19, so the sheep will be gone from the range in a couple of weeks.

The department hasn’t authorized killing any wolves since there were two in 2011.

“We are sorry your experience with Oregon’s forest lands has been problematic this year,” wildlife biologist Mark Kirsch wrote in a letter the department sent to Bingham. “It is our hope you complete your grazing season with no further loss.”

Bingham does have the right to use lethal force if a wolf is caught in the act of biting, wounding, killing or chasing his sheep or dogs. This does not require a permit from the state.

Bingham called the officials dishonest and told the Capital Press that “the only interest to them is that the wolves eat the economy of Eastern Oregon.”

He said he’s followed the state guidelines even while losing an estimated 100 ewes to wolves over the past two years. In addition to the guard dog killed this year, two were injured last year and another disappeared and is presumed dead.

“We have not harmed any wolves but we are not in the business of sacrificing assets to feed (the wildlife department’s) pet dogs,” Bingham told the Capital Press by text.

There aren’t wildlife department reports to corroborate all of Bingham’s claimed losses, but he said he didn’t report many of the attacks. According to the East Oregonian, other farmers suspect wolves kill many more cattle and sheep than are confirmed by the state.

The Department of Fish & Wildlife follows a strict protocol to confirm wolf attacks, including an examination of wounds and measuring bite marks and tracks.

Help protect the imperiled Archipelago wolf!‏


A rare and dramatically declining gray wolf subspecies in Alaska will face critical threats from hunting this year unless we act immediately.

The population of Archipelago wolves found on Prince of Wales Island, a remote island in southeast Alaska, has plummeted in recent years due to unsustainable old-growth logging and hunting. Despite this population crash, the federal government plans to allow subsistence hunting – a decision that may push the population to the edge of extinction.

The subsistence hunting season for Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island will open on September 1st unless the Federal Subsistence Board cancels the hunt.

On Prince of Wales Island, roads built for old-growth logging are making it easier for hunters, trappers, and poachers to kill Archipelago wolves at an unsustainable rate. The Prince of Wales Island wolf population is now very low, perhaps only a few tens of wolves – down from an estimated 250 to 350 in the mid-1990s.

The start of hunting is just a few days away and could serve as a fatal blow to these embattled wolves.

Demand that the hunting of these rare wolves be stopped!

copyrighted wolf in water

Groups want hunting season suspended for rare Alaska wolves

— Six conservation organizations are asking state and federal authorities to stop hunting and trapping seasons for Alexander Archipelago wolves, a southeast Alaska species that den in the root systems of large trees.

Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list the wolves as endangered in August 2011.

The groups say large-scale logging fragments forests and reduces carrying capacity for Sitka black-tailed deer, the prey of the wolves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September agreed to decide by late 2015 whether the wolves warrant endangered species protection.

Rebecca Noblin of the Center for Biological Diversity says without hunting and trapping suspensions, wolves on Prince of Wales Island will be gone before the government can decide whether they need endangered species protection

Ltr: Don’t cater to trophy hunters when it comes to wolves

Some members of Congress are catering to trophy hunters by proposing to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves. The federal government tried this in several states, the states immediately opened hunting seasons, and wolf numbers plummeted. The fate of these animals should be determined by science, not Congress.

The stories about wolves constantly gobbling up all livestock and children are myths. They only account for just 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent of all livestock deaths. There have been no documented attacks by wolves on people in the lower 48 states.

Let’s be clear: hunting wolves is completely counterintuitive. It actually increases the tendency of wolves to pray on livestock because it breaks up stable wolf packs and allows younger animals to start breeding and expanding into new territories.

Wolves are trying to survive after centuries of persecution. I would like to urge my Representative, Brenda Lawrence, to support keeping federal protections for wolves.

Please contact your Congressional representative and let them know you want our remaining wolves to stay protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Kristina Pepelko,

West Bloomfield

copyrighted wolf in river