State Evidence Suggests New Wolf May Be in California’s Lassen County

Center for Biological Diversity

SAN FRANCISCO— New evidence released by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests there may be a wolf in Lassen County. The information — not yet conclusive — includes photos from four trail cameras between August and May and a hair sample from one of the sites. While DNA test results were inconclusive as to whether the animal is a wolf, dog or wolf-dog hybrid, the fact the animal persisted through the winter in this remote location leads agency officials to believe the animal is likely a wolf. The animal is not wearing a radio-collar, so its movements will be detectable only by trail camera, tracks, scat and sightings.

Possible wolf sighted in Lassen County
Photo courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“We’re crossing our fingers that another wolf has arrived in California as part of the ongoing recovery of wolves across the West,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves continue to prove what scientists have said all along – that California has great habitat for wolves.”

The first wolf in nearly a century to enter California was OR-7, a radio-collared wolf from Oregon that dispersed from the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon and entered California in late 2011. OR-7 ranged across seven northeastern counties in California before returning to southwestern Oregon, where he found a mate and has now had litters of pups for three consecutive years. Then, in August 2015, California’s first known wolf family was confirmed from trail camera images captured in Siskiyou County. Named the Shasta pack, the all-black wolf family was comprised of two adults and five pups. And in December 2015, wolf OR-25, also originally from the Imnaha pack, crossed the border into California for three weeks before returning to Oregon, and has made several more forays into the Golden State since that time.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife also reported this month that scat samples from the two adults and four pups of the Shasta pack collected last October have been DNA-tested, and the results indicate that both the breeding male and female adults are related to wolves from Oregon’s Imnaha pack.  Of the four pups whose scat was tested, one is female and the other three are males

Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are native to California but were driven to extinction in the state by the mid-1920s. After OR-7 dispersed from Oregon into California, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned the state to fully protect wolves under California’s state endangered species act. In June 2014 the California Fish and Game Commission voted in favor of the petition, making it illegal to intentionally kill any wolves that enter the state. In 2012 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife convened a citizen stakeholder group to help the agency develop a state wolf plan for California, and then circulated a draft version of the plan for public comment in early 2016. The agency anticipates releasing the final version of the plan sometime this year.

“With the potential confirmation of another wolf in California, we’re glad that that these magnificent animals are fully protected under state and federal law because each new wolf we gain is critical for the species to be able to recover here,” said Weiss. “We drove this species to extinction here and we are extremely fortunate to get a second chance to see these ecologically essential and beautiful animals return.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

https://www.thedodo.com/rebel-wolf-killed-zoo-1180189057.html

North Idaho wolf pups killed at den; reward offered

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2016/jun/16/north-idaho-wolf-pups-killed-den-site-reward-offered/

Gray wolf pups. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)Gray wolf pups. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

PREDATORS — Idaho Fish and Game is asking for the public’s help in determining who is responsible for removing and killing young wolves from a den in North Idaho.

The incident occurred in Kootenai County, about 15 miles from Coeur d’Alene, in the Sage Creek drainage, says Phil Cooper, department spokesman.   The incident likely occurred sometime during the week of May 16.

“Fish and Game manages wolves in Idaho as big game animals,” he said.  “There was no open season for wolves in the area when the juvenile wolves were killed.”

Fish and Game officers collected evidence at the scene and are following leads.

Information about the incident can be called in to the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline, (800) 632-5999.

“Callers may remain anonymous,” he said. “A reward is available for anyone providing information that leads to criminal prosecution of the case.”

Wolf and Bear

from Defenders of Wildlife:

It’s supposedly an energy bill, but the “North American Energy Infrastructure Act of 2016” contains a lethal dose of anti-wildlife amendments that will lead to dead wolves, dead bears and the destruction of many important wildlife protections.

And while the pro-oil, pro-coal, climate change-denying provisions of the bill are despicable, the anti-wildlife measures are equally catastrophic.

Tell your senators to oppose this bill’s wide array of anti-wildlife provisions.

This bill has incorporated the so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Opportunity Act,” with all of its horrific attacks on wildlife and public lands that we have spoken about before.

The deadly wildlife provisions include:

  • Forced delisting of Wyoming and Great Lakes gray wolves – you might recall that before the federal courts reversed a premature delisting of Wyoming wolves, over 85 percent of the state had been declared a “predator zone,” where anyone could kill a wolf, at any time and for any reason;
  • Gun lobby-endorsed language that would hasten the extinction of African elephants by hindering U.S. efforts to crack down on the illegal ivory trade;
  • Provisions that would allow the most extreme forms of wolf and bear hunting on over 100 million acres of federally-protected wildlife habitat in Alaska, including baiting, snaring and killing mothers and young; and
  • Language that would severely undermine wildlife safeguards and encourage increased logging in the national forests that millions of creatures rely on for survival.

The anti-wildlife forces just won’t give up. It’s up to you and me to stop them.

Tell your senators to protect wildlife by opposing this harmful House Energy Bill!

Thanks for your tireless help on behalf of the wildlife we love.

Demanding Justice for Over 4,200 Dead Gray Wolves/Rallying Loudly Against Idaho’s Ongoing Wolf Slaughter

Spring 2016  newsletter from Predator Defense

 

It hurts tremendously to have to report ever-increasing kill numbers for gray wolves.  But these indefensible losses are the natural and predictable result of the political gamesman-ship that occurred five years ago when wolves were stripped of federal endangered species protection and management was turned over to state wildlife agencies.  Since 2011 over 4,200 wolves have been senselessly slaughtered by sport hunters and trappers alone.  Nowhere is the killing worse than Idaho, but Oregon recently took a very bad turn, removing protections for their fledgling population of around 100 wolves (see pg. 2).

Thankfully, we also have good news to report—a legal victory for wolves in Washington state, as well as two wolf protection lawsuits we’re part of in Idaho and Oregon.  In April we returned to Idaho for the fourth time in 12 months, meeting with attorneys and other activists to strategize a way to stop Idaho Fish and Game’s out-of-control killing program.  We also rallied against the wolf slaughter at the Idaho state capitol in February.  (See feature on pgs. 2-3.)

Speaking Out for Imperiled Grizzly Bears in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

As we went to press, the public comment period closed on a proposal to delist grizzly bears in the area around Yellowstone National Park.  Hunters are now chomping at the bit to buy a $50 license to kill a bear to adorn their wall and floor.

The delisting debate has been heated, but opposi-tion has been strong, with the majority

of the public and scientists against removing protections.  Over 63,000 people submitted comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).  We signed on to an official comment letter with 80 other environmental organizations urging USFWS to keep grizzly bears protected, and 58 top scientists joined Jane Goodall in an anti-delisting campaign.  We have all forcefully stated that grizzlies have not recovered, and the decision to …Hunting and livestock interests control 99% of wildlife policy.

The Wolf Wars

Over 4,200 gray wolves have been killed since federal protections were removed in April 2011.  The slaughter won’t stop until wildlife “management” policies reflect science and the public will, rather than the tiny minority— hunting and livestock interests.  Our work to raise awareness and demand change continues.

PREDATOR DEFENSE  |  Spring  2016  |  page 2

Oregon Takes Giant Step Backward, Delisting Wolves

Until recently, Oregon was thought of as a progressive state in terms of wolf “man-agement.”  While wolves were driven out over 50 years ago and never reintroduced, those who migrated to Oregon from Idaho in recent years were allowed to coexist.  As of March 2016 Oregon’s wolf population numbered around 100, a recovery that was considered a great start.  And contrary to what the agricultural interests expected, depredation on livestock decreased during the time the wolf population increased.

But Oregon’s “honeymoon with wolves” appears officially over.  When the population reached the benchmark established by the Oregon Wolf Plan, classifying it as Phase 2, hunting and livestock interests won the day.  Circumventing both best-available science and public will, the Oregon Fish & Wildlife  Commission removed state endangered species protection in November 2015.  In March 2016 Governor Kate Brown caved to special interests and signed the delisting bill (HB 4040) into law.  This delisting decision makes the future for Oregon wolves look increasingly grim.  If the current trend continues, Oregon could soon look a lot like Idaho and Montana, which have been wolf-slaughtering fields since 2011, with grisly sport hunting and trapping seasons.

While Oregon’s current wolf management plan does not permit hunting or trap-ping seasons, wolves can be killed if seen predating on livestock and in recent years ranchers have pushed their political clout.  The ink had barely dried on the Governor’s signature when wildlife agents in a helicopter gunned down a family of four from Oregon’s first established pack, the Imnaha. They killed legendary 10-year old alpha male, OR-4, his mate, and two yearling pups for allegedly preying on livestock on a rancher’s land.  Contrary to what the media and state wildlife officials say, nonlethal methods were not used correctly, nor were all the appropriate methods attempted.

The existing Oregon Wolf Management Plan is in early stages of being rewritten.  We will comment on the new draft as soon as the comment period opens.  We are also co-plaintiffs in the wolf protection lawsuit described below.

Wolves Win Legal Victory in Washington State

Wolves in Washington state were given reason to celebrate in December 2015, when a federal judge put a hold on a plan to kill more wolves to reduce livestock predation. The judge found that the federal agency proposing the killings (Wildlife Services) violated the law, which requires an Environmental Impact Statement. He also found their plan to be highly controversial and unlikely to work.

So Washington state is actually requiring that science be considered.  This is fab-ulous news!   We’re proud to have been co-plaintiffs in this important case, and we’d like to thank our friends John Mellgren and Andrea Rodgers at the Western Environ-mental Law Center for handling it so expertly.

Oregon Wolf Protection Lawsuit Filed; Idaho Soon to Follow

We have reason to hope that two new lawsuits in Oregon and Idaho will produce similarly positive results to Washington’s.  We are co-plaintiffs in a suit filed in February that challenges Wildlife Services’ authority to kill any of Oregon’s fledgling population of around 100 wolves.  We are contending that Wildlife Services failed to explain why killing wolves on behalf of livestock interests should replace common-sense, proactive and nonlethal alternatives, such as those already reflected in the Oregon Wolf Management Plan.  We have joined a similar lawsuit against Wildlife Services that will be filed in Idaho shortly.

As you likely know, Idaho is the nation’s biggest wolf-killing state.  Over 1,500 wolves have been slaughtered there by hunters and trappers alone since the 2011 delisting.  This does not include the scores slaughtered by state and federal predator control agencies.  Adding insult to this outrage, early this year federal agents secretly aerial gunned 20 wolves from helicopters in the Lolo Zone of Clearwater National Forest, one of the most pristine native predator habitats in the country.

Since Idaho is a state run amok in brutality against wildlife and denial of sci-entific reality, they can only be stopped if enough of us speak out and demand wholesale change incessantly, from now until we succeed.

We rallied in protest of Idaho’s ongoing slaughter at the state capitol build-ing in Boise on Feb. 15, 2016. Our numbers were not huge, but our voices were loud.  Over 70 people showed up during the course of the rally to demand an end to Idaho’s wasteful Wolf Control Board and the termination of the USDA Wildlife Services aerial gunning program.  We will also bring legal action soon, along the same lines as the wolf protection lawsuits described on pg. 2.

Alpha female mom and pup

Howl of the Hunted Part III

Continued from https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/excerpt-from-the-howl-of-the-hunted/ and https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/the-howl-of-the-hunted-part-two/

copyrighted wolf in river

“Lone wolves are rare. Normally wolves live in packs ranging in size from three to thirty members, but averaging less than eight. The pack is essential for the species’ survival and its size is determined by the abundance of prey in a given area. A single wolf can rarely bring down an animal as large as a deer or elk, but a pack–working together with each individual taking a role–can usually, procure enough food for all members. Wolves often have great difficulty overcoming a hoofed animal contrary to older beliefs. This well known by the wolf himself and is reflected in the way he chooses his prey. If the prey does not run at first rush but holds his ground, he’s usually left alone. A good example of wolves ‘testing’ prey comes from L. David Mech’s book, The Wolves of Isle Royale, a study of wolf/moose relationships on a large protected island in Lake Michigan:

‘Seven wolves encountered three adult moose standing a few yards inland among sparse conifers and heavy blowdown. The wolves ran fifteen yards to the nearest moose, but the animal stood at bay and threatened the wolves. Immediately they headed for the second moose, which started running. However, they soon abandoned pursuit, for the animal had a head start. Then they turned to the third moose, which had watched them chase the others. This animal ran upon their approach and when during the pursuit it charged the wolves, one got ahead of the moose. The moose charges this wolf and chased it down the trail for fifty yards while the rest of the pack pursued it. Finally the moose stood next to a spruce and defied the wolves. Within half a minute they gave up.’

“On Isle Royale, Mech regularly observed moose from the air. Of the 160 in the range of the hunting wolves, 29 were ignored by wolves, 11 discovered the wolves first and eluded detection, 24 refused to run when confronted and were left alone. Of the 96 that ran, 43 got away immediately, 34 were surrounded but left alone, 12 made successful defensive stands, 7 were attacked, 6 were killed and 1 was wounded but escaped. These cases he observed over several winters in the 1960s.

“Wolves must be very economical in their energy expenditure if they are to survive. A healthy adult moose has a good chance of escaping and the wolves know they can’t afford to chase for long distances without results. Also a wolf knows he can be seriously injured or killed by his hoofed prey, if it is strong and healthy. Weaker individuals, logically, are easier to catch and the wolves–not caring about making trophy kills or obtaining fine hides–go for the easiest prey possible. Wolves often stare down their prey before deciding which one is healthiest and which one is weakest. The weaker usually show some sign of nervousness not exhibited by healthier individuals.

“The personality of wolves was summed up by Adolf Murie, who spent long periods of time with wolves in Mount McKinley National Park. In his 1944 book, The Wolves of Mount McKinley, he writes, ‘The strongest impression remaining with me after watching wolves on numerous occasions, was their friendliness. The adults were friendly towards each other and were amiable toward the pups.’

“His social nature contributes greatly to the wolf’s personality traits. One of the strongest traits is his capacity to make emotional attachments to other individuals. This is very important to the formation of a pack as the unit of a wolf’s society. Another characteristic necessary for wolf pack system cohesion is the aversion to fighting. This non-violent nature is advantageous considering they must spend much of their time together.”

 

 
to be continued…

Stiffer penalties needed for poaching wolves

http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/stiffer-penalties-needed-for-poaching-wolves/

Poaching may be limiting progress toward wolf recovery goals.

WOLVES are important native predators and vital pieces of our wildlife heritage. The news [“Four new wolf packs recorded in state,” Local News, March 14] that Washington is now home to at least 90 wolves, 18 packs and eight breeding pairs is exciting.

However, eight years after wolves were first confirmed back in the North Cascades, there are only three wolf packs in that designated recovery area. There remain no confirmed wolf packs in the Cascades south of Interstate 90 or in Western Washington. In order to meet wolf-recovery goals agreed upon under the Washington Wolf Conservation and Management Plan (Wolf Plan), and for the long term viability of the species in our state, it’s important that wolves recolonize the high-quality habitat in the Olympic Peninsula and Washington’s South Cascades.

Wolves are protected by both state and federal endangered-species laws in Washington. Yet wolf poaching has occurred with tragic frequency in recent years. Several members of the Methow Valley’s Lookout Pack were poached in 2010. A wolf from the Smackout Pack was poached in late 2013. The 2014 poaching of a Kittitas County breeding female wolf is still unprosecuted. In September 2015, shamefully minimal fines were announced for a Whitman County wolf poacher. Also in 2015, investigators announced that a lone wolf killed by a vehicle on I-90 west of Snoqualmie Pass had previously been shot. Numerous other unconfirmed rumors of wolf poaching reach us each year, and some are most certainly true.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a bull elk or a wolf, poaching is never acceptable.

Death of wolf pack is a sobering turn for Oregon’s wolf plan

http://www.dailyastorian.com/da/capital-bureau/20160408/death-of-wolf-pack-is-a-sobering-turn-for-oregons-wolf-plan?utm_source=Daily+Astorian+Updates&utm_campaign=304b60fbbe-TEMPLATE_Daily_Astorian_Newsletter_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e787c9ed3c-304b60fbbe-109860249
Age and injury may have fractured Oregon’s most influential wolf pack, and led to the downfall of its longtime alpha male.

By Eric Mortenson

Capital Press

Published on April 8, 2016 12:01AM

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists place a new GPS collar on OR-4, the Imnaha wolf pack’s alpha male, after darting him from a helicopter in March 2012.

Courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists place a new GPS collar on OR-4, the Imnaha wolf pack’s alpha male, after darting him from a helicopter in March 2012.

Eric Mortenson/Capital Press

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They called him OR-4, and by some accounts he was Oregon’s biggest and baddest wolf, 97 pounds of cunning in his prime and the longtime alpha male of Wallowa County’s influential Imnaha Pack.

But OR-4 was nearly 10, old for a wolf in the wild. And his mate limped with a bad back leg. Accompanied by two yearlings, they apparently separated from the rest of the Imnaha Pack or were forced out. In March, they attacked and devoured or injured calves and sheep five times in private pastures.

So on March 31, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff boarded a helicopter, rose up and shot all four.

The decisive action by the department may have marked a somber turning point in the state’s work to restore wolves to the landscape. It comes on the heels of the Wildlife Commission’s decision in November to take gray wolves off the state endangered species list, and just as the commission is beginning a review of the Oregon Wolf Plan, the document that governs wolf conservation and management.

Oregon Wild, the Portland-based conservation group with long involvement in the state’s wolf issue, said shooting wolves should be an “absolute last resort.”

“While the wolf plan is out of date and under review, we shouldn’t be taking the most drastic action we can take in wolf management,” Executive Director Sean Stevens said in an email.

The commission should not have taken wolves off the state endangered species list in the first place, but it isn’t likely to revisit that decision, Stevens said.

The commission should call upon the department to not shoot more wolves until the plan review is finished, he said.

“But, more importantly, they should recognize that delisting does not mean that we should suddenly swing open the doors to more aggressive management,” Stevens said.

The ongoing wolf plan review, which may take nine months, should include science that wasn’t considered in the delisting decision, and the public’s will, he said. It also should create more clarity on non-lethal measures to deter wolves, he said.
Both sides
Publicly, at least, no one is celebrating the shootings.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, long on the opposite side of the argument from Oregon Wild, said ODFW’s action was authorized by Phase II of the state’s wolf plan.

“The problem needed addressed and ODFW handled it correctly,” spokeswoman Kayli Hanley said in an email. “We acknowledge that while this decision was necessary for the sake of species coexistence, it was a difficult decision.”

Michael Finley, chairman of the commission, said the department handled the situation properly.

“I feel that the department acted in total good faith,” Finley said. “They followed the letter and the spirit of the wolf plan.”

Another conservation group, Defenders of Wildlife, called the shootings “a very sad day for us” but also said it appeared Fish and Wildlife followed the wolf plan.

“The final plan is a compromise, but it is among the best of all the state plans in that it emphasizes the value of wolves on the landscape, and requires landowners to try non-lethal methods of deterring wolves before killing them is ever considered,” the group said in a prepared statement.

Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Imnaha Pack shootings may lead to more poaching, because killing wolves decreases tolerance of them and leads to a belief that “you have to kill wolves in order to preserve them.”

Weiss agreed that coming across a calf or sheep that’s been torn apart and consumed — the skull and hide was all that was left of one calf after the OR-4 group fed on it — must be gut-wrenching for producers. But she said those animals are raised to be killed and eaten. “They don’t die any more a humane death in a slaughterhouse than being killed by a wild animal,” she said. “It’s a hard discussion to find a common place of agreement.”

She said such losses are the reason Oregon established the compensation program: to pay for livestock losses and to help with the cost of defensive measures that scare wolves away.
Rush to Phase II
Weiss said Oregon rushed to move to Phase II of its wolf conservation and management plan in the eastern part of the state, which was prompted by reaching a population goal of four breeding pairs for three consecutive years. That also prompted the Fish and Wildlife Commission to take wolves off the state endangered species list in 2015, although they remain on the federal endangered list in the Western two-thirds of the state.

Like others, Weiss believes the state should have held off on such changes until it finished the mandated review of the wolf plan.

“Under Phase I, Oregon was the state we could all point to” for successfully managing wolves, Weiss said. “I would hope they look at what parts of the wolf plan are working, and look at the parts that are not working.”

Politics and policy aside, the shooting of OR-4 gave people pause. He was a bigger-than-life character; he’d evaded a previous state kill order and had to be re-collared a couple times as he somehow shook off the state’s effort to track him.
Pack history
OR-4’s Imnaha Pack was the state’s second oldest, designated in 2009, and it produced generations of successful dispersers. OR-4’s many progeny included Oregon’s best-known wanderer, OR-7, who left the Imnaha Pack in 2011 and zig-zagged his way southwest into California before settling in the Southern Oregon Cascades.

OR-25, which killed a calf in Klamath County and now is in Northern California, dispersed from the Imnaha Pack. The alpha female of the Shasta Pack, California’s first, is from the Imnaha Pack as well.

Rob Klavins, who lives in Wallowa County and is Oregon Wild’s field representative in the area, ran across OR-4’s tracks a couple times and saw him once.

Despite his fearsome reputation, the wolf tucked his tail between his legs, ran behind a nearby tree and barked at Klavins and his hiking group until they left.

“Killing animals four or five times your size is a tough way to make a living,” Klavins said. “Some people appreciate OR-4 as a symbol of the tenacity of wolves, even a lot of folks who dislike wolves have sort of a begrudging respect for him.”

Oregon: Enlightened or Dishonest, Cruel and Corrupt?

 

Robert Goldman's photo.
by Robert Goldman

Oregon’s legislators and governor have a big decision to make regarding the future of wolves in the state. It is a litmus test on whether these leaders are honest, decent and wise and whether they serve the hopes and dreams of a clear majority of Oregonians, or other interests. Will these supposed leaders do the right thing for wolves and for a brighter future for Oregon or will they fall back on the dark side of Oregon’s history?

Honest science, healthy ecosystems and biodiversity, the public trust doctrine, basic decency and respect and the clear will of the majority, all favor wolf protection. 96% of Oregonians told the state wildlife agency they favor wolf protection. Additionally, Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife website makes crystal clear that the presence of approximately one hundred wolves has resulted in a near zero effect on the state’s 1,300,000 cattle, as depredation by wolves is barely out of the single digits per year. No honest person can claim with a straight face that Oregon has anything resembling a wolf problem because it does not have such a problem.

The truth is, just as in nearby Idaho, there is a people problem, but in Oregon it comes from a relatively small number of people. Their long held prejudices and their willingness to demonize and kill vital and innocent wolves while lying about them is well known. Some have no shame in spreading utter nonsense about ‘Canadian super wolves’, snarling monster beings and the end of the world triggered by…. fairy tales.

But Oregon is supposed to be different, isn’t it? Oregon is a green and enlightened state, where honesty, decency and justice rule, right?

I had the pleasure of visiting Oregon for three weeks in June and July of 2014. I arrived in the state with a high regard for its vast natural beauty, its magnificent native wildlife, lush forests and magical coast. The forward thinking reputation of its people resonated in my mind.

After an enjoyable week with a hiking club based in Portland, I rented a car and drove to the Wallowa Valley drawn by my respect for Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce people whose sacred homeland this had been for thousands of years. I hiked into the mountains and canoed, took lots of pretty pictures of horses and deer (they are everywhere), water and forests and people and their dogs. I explored and lingered for many hours in the very field where Chief Joseph gathered with his people as they prepared to flee their homeland, their very lives hanging in the balance. My heart felt heavy and sad, as if the unbearable heart ache of 800 innocent souls still hovers over this valley and the beautiful green field guarded by trees and mountains.

The Nez Perce were the peaceful native tribe who saved the entire Lewis and Clark expedition from certain starvation and death only seventy years earlier. President Jefferson personally promised, in gratitude, that the Wallowa Valley would never be taken from the Nez Perce. Later Presidents re-affirmed that promise, even as more white settlers invaded and threatened to steal the land from its rightful owners. The settlers kept coming and kept threatening. Gold was discovered nearby and the land was taken, the promises broken.

The ancestors of these white settlers are among the 8,000 people who call the Wallowa Valley home today. Some of these people are present day Wallowa cattle ranchers who mythologize and demonize wolves, pressure the state wildlife agency to take action, persistently lobby state legislators and the governor to do something about the wolf problem, the problem that exists in their own minds.

I visited the tourist town of Joseph and its wonderful museums, including the Maxwell Plantation Museum dedicated to African Americans who worked for a time as lumbermen in the region. There I learned that the founding state constitution of 1859 forbade the presence and citizenship of African Americans anywhere in Oregon.

Just east of the Wallowas, I explored the dusty, rugged town of Pendleton. On the Pendleton Underground Tour, I learned of the hard working Chinese men who helped build the early railways of the expanding United States. When their decades long hard labor was done and the rail lines complete, they were not wanted by the white settlers who had only recently established the new town of Pendleton. These human beings, thousands of miles from their native land, excavated a village beneath the streets of early Pendleton, a cavernous and dark place. There they lived, set up small businesses and did their best to survive from day to day. Above ground, it was legal to shoot a “Chinaman” for no reason. These poor souls survived in their underground village into the early 1900’s, which is not much more than a hundred years ago.

This not so distant history is part of Oregon’s past, or is it?

On behalf of ecologically vital, remarkably intelligent and social, deeply family-connected and innocent wolves, on behalf of the hopeful and decent majority of Oregonians you are supposed to serve and who have spoken clearly on this issue, in light of the facts and honest science, with full knowledge of your obligation to at long last live up to the public trust doctrine in which wildlife belongs to everyone and is to be managed (or left alone) accordingly, I am asking Oregon state legislators, the governor and the state wildlife agency, which Oregon will you be? The enlightened Oregon of your reputation or the dishonest, cruel and corrupt Oregon of your past?

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