Delisting of Oregon’s Wolves. Why?

ODFW photo
ODFW photo

Monday, November 9, 2015 marked a day of decision for the future of wolves in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Commission met in Salem, Oregon to hear public testimony on the proposed delisting of wolves in our state and then to vote on the subject.

The meeting began at eight in the morning and continued until seven pm. Testimony was heard from those on both sides of the issue. Out of the 77 that testified, 43 spoke up to maintain protections for wolves in Oregon, while 34 were in favor of delisting. Once testimony was complete, the Commission met with their legal counsel to discuss the possible repercussions of a partial delisting, which would remove state protections for wolves in the eastern and middle parts of the state, but would maintain protections for wolves elsewhere. It was determined that the current Endangered Species Act did not allow for this option.

So, with a vote of 4 to 2, wolves were delisted statewide.

One illusion that comes with living in a democracy is the assumption that our voices are heard. However, Monday’s actions of the ODFW Commission does not lead one to believe that they listened, except to the voices that coincided with the decision they made, and perhaps had made long before.

I did not attend. The needs of Spike, our 15 year old Jack Russell came first. He’s been having spells of some kind that lend him weak and listless, unable to walk or eat or play for hours. When he feels up to walking again, he gets stuck in corners and needs help backing out. Sometimes, he forgets how to drink. Last evening, he perked up and played like a pup with Dylan, my son and the much loved and loving owner of Spike. Then he curled up in his dog bed, worn out by the day. As you can imagine, I just didn’t feel good about leaving him.

So I stayed home and tried to watch the meeting via webcam, however technical difficulties didn’t allow this. I called the ODFW and they said they were working on it, but apparently the difficulties were too much to overcome.

Instead, I reviewed Russ Morgan’s PowerPoint on delisting grey wolves in Oregon, the submissions made by organizations and scientific sources, and the letters and emails sent to the Commission that were posted on the meeting agenda.

I learned a ton from these comments, both from the experts and from the many individuals who wrote in, some with major credentials behind their names and some whose names were followed simply by a street address. And the addresses came from all over, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington and Ontario.

Here are a few things I read that led me to wonder how well the Commission listened before the four of them cast their vote to delist:

Suzanne Asha Stone, Senior Northwest Representative with Defenders of Wildlife, wrote of the fact that federal delisting will likely occur soon, leaving wolves throughout Oregon without that protection. She also brought up concerns that the number of wolves coming into Oregon from Idaho may decrease as Idaho strives to meet it’s goal of fewer wolves. This could also contribute to genetic isolation issues here in Oregon. Stone questioned that delisting may reduce the important emphasis on non-lethal measures to protect livestock from wolves, leading to more problems. In her words, “As seen, improperly managed conflicts with livestock represent the single greatest challenge to wolf conservation. And if wolf and livestock conflicts are not well managed, as frequently seen elsewhere, wolves pay a heavy toll through lethal control and illegal killing.”

The Pacific Wolf Coalition submitted letters and detailed research by scientists and others knowledgeable on the subject. The summation of the findings was that none of these individuals believed that the ODFW’s recommendation to delist was sound. Those cited include Marc Becoff, Michael Soule, Barbara Brower, William Ripple, Adrien Treves, Jennifer Wolch, Robert Beschta, John Vucetich and many others. It was also mentioned that over 22,000 comments were submitted to the Commission that stood in opposition to the delisting.

Pam and Randy Comeleo of Corvallis researched how past Commissions have evaluated the status of other species up for delisting. Before state protections were removed for the bald eagle and peregrine falcon, both species had repopulated all suitable habitat in the state. Wolves in Oregon now live in only 12% of their potential range. The bald eagle and peregrine falcon were delisted only after “actual statewide recovery was verified by extensive, multi-year field surveys conducted by independent experts.” The peregrine situation underwent a formal peer review by three nationally recognized experts before delisted.

One letter that was signed by over 200 individuals stated, “Most published studies on species viability indicate there needs to be a population in the range of several thousand animals–not a mere 77–to be able to withstand catastrophic events like disease outbreak.”

Several people wrote in, via email or on handwritten or typed notes, encouraging the Commission to protect wolves in Oregon so there would be adequate numbers to disperse into California. Many of the comments expressed a belief that the decision to delist was a political one, rather than one founded on “sound, peer-reviewed science.” I read a lot of letters asking the Commission to just hold off and not rush into this decision. Many doubted the validity of the ODFW’s study that forecasts little to no chance of a population decrease in the future.

ODFW photo
ODFW photo

The correspondence I reviewed also included many comments urging the Commission to delist wolves. A lot of these came from members of The Oregon Hunter’s Association (OHA), who sent a notice (with a picture of a snarling wolf) to their members urged them to write letters and attend the meeting dressed in OHA attire. Overwhelmingly, the OHA comments expressed fears that they are losing elk and deer to wolves. Several said they “opposed the reintroduction of wolves in Oregon in the first place.” One wrote, “The animals breed like mice and will spread like wildfire. They serve no useful purpose to our ecosystem.” Another hunter admitted that his desire for delisting, “…may partially come from a selfish viewpoint.”

A brief email from Dave Mech is included in the ODFW literature. Mech writes that delisting is warranted and that Oregon wolves should be considered a part of the Rocky Mountain wolf population, one that is thriving and under adequate legal protection.

There was an editorial published in the Statesman Journal on November 4, 2015 that brings up a good summarizing point. Chris Albert, a DVM from Kentucky, wrote, “Perhaps wolf advocates wouldn’t be so worried about delisting wolves in Oregon if delisting hadn’t been so hard on wolves everywhere else.”

This is so true, and speaks to a far sightedness that the delisting decision does not adhere to. If Oregon follows the path of every other state and province that has denied protections for wolves we can expect a future of massive wolf “management” in the form of lethal control and liberal hunting and trapping. Delisting is only the first step. Mech’s comment that surrounding wolf populations are “legally well protected” is at the very least, an arguable one, one that sees wolves as dispensable as clay pigeons.

The antiquated thinking that emphasis only numbers disregards all evidence that wolves form close knit family groups and that the loss of family members impairs the family group in ways we are only beginning to understand. Alaskan biologist Gordon Haber understood, but his innovative beliefs are still rare in the scientific world.

I have faith in the strength of wonderful groups like Oregon Wild, Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, as well as the multitude of individuals who will continue to stand strong in protecting Oregon’s wolves. We may have lost this battle, but the entire future of wolves is ahead and will be won.


Oregon Wild Crater Lake Wolf Rendezvous!

Journey pic

I was honored to be a part of the first Crater Lake Wolf Rendezvous organized by Oregon Wild. Click below to read the article detailing the wonderful weekend. I imagine this will become an annual event. Why don’t you join us next time!

Welcoming Wolves Back to Southern Oregon

by Beckie Elgin

The final night of the first Oregon Wild Crater Lake Wolf Rendezvous. Debriefing time. Jonathan Jelen, Development Director for Oregon Wild, tells the eleven of us sitting in a tight circle around a crackling campfire that we need to relish our victories in the wolf world, as things don’t always go well. He’s right; wolf advocacy is often fraught with disappointment as we battle the mythology and misinformation that surrounds Canis lupus. Yet throughout this event, camped along the Rogue River or on excursions nearby, we enjoyed four productive and memorable days together, learning about wolves and building friendships with like-minded people. This is the kind of success that keeps us going.

Read the complete article here.

A New Film ‘Fable of the Wolf’ by Earthjustice, Sneak Preview

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Beckie Elgin, Freelance Writer:

Thanks to Wolves of Douglas County for posting this!

Originally posted on Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin:

Here is a sneak peak at a new film by Earthjustice that is scheduled for release Wednesday September 9, 2015.  This hauntingly beautiful film explores wolves relationship with humans and is called  ‘Fable of the Wolf’

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California Dreaming

The Shasta Pack, CaDFW
The Shasta Pack, Ca. Dept. Fish and Wildlife

I’m not complaining, but the way the wolf world is changing in these parts is making me feel old. I find myself making remarks like, “I remember the day when wolves were long gone from Oregon.” And, “Before last week, it seemed like a pipe dream to imagine a family of wolves residing in California.” I remind myself of an old timer, talking about the past like I’ve lived through the industrial revolution or the advent of computer technology.

But there have been enormous and rapid changes in the wolf situation in Oregon and California. Just eight years ago a wolf was found shot in Union County in northeast Oregon and ODFW wolf coordinator, Russ Morgan was quoted as saying, “It’s important for people to be thinking about the possibility of wolves in their area and to understand how to respond. It is illegal to shoot a wolf, even one mistaken for another animal. Hunters in particular need to identify their target before shooting because wolves can look similar to coyotes.”  This hapless wolf had been preceded by four others, no doubt all of them migrants from Idaho. One was returned to Idaho in 1999 and two others were found dead in 2000, one shot, the other hit by a vehicle. But they kept coming back and in July of 2008, the Wenaha pack produced what is believed to have been the first litter of wild wolves born in the state for over 60 years. About this same time,  B300, or Sophie, soon followed by OR 4, ditched Idaho for Oregon and started the Imnaha pack. The rest is history.

Of course, with available prey and a large enough area to roam, wolves do have a high reproductive potential. The current Oregon wolf population alone proves that. ODFW reported a minimum of 77 wolves in their most recent count, including eleven packs, at least eight of them breeding. There were also five known pairs that were not yet designated as packs. And Areas of Known Wolf Activity (AKWA) continue to pop up. This month two new areas were reported.

 ODFW map

Yet the dispersal of wolves seems to be fed by forces other than simply their ability to reproduce. They are returning to the landscape in many parts of the world, not just Oregon and northern California. They peek their noses into Iowa and Colorado and Utah, where they invariably end up dead. “Oh, I thought it was a coyote!” Over the last several years we’ve read of the return of Canis lupus to Germany (the last wolf was shot there in 1904), and their populations have risen in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. The Netherlands recently saw their first wolf since 1869. And, as if it were still the 1800s, some of the same paranoia and dissention surrounds their return. One group called the Sicherheit und Artenschutz (Security and Species Protection) Association campaigned to shoot wolves on sight because they were sure the animals were going to attack the first human they came across.

I haven’t heard of anyone succumbing to the jaws of a wolf in Germany, but to paint an accurate picture, their return has not been without problems. When wolves first began to enter eastern Germany from Poland there were several hits on livestock. A 2013 article in The Independent reported that in 2002, one farmer lost 33 sheep in two nights. Since then, non-lethal measures, including guard dogs and electric fences have minimized depredations according to the article.

The movement of wolves into southern Oregon and now California has been so far, so good. Journey, the leader of the odyssey, has not been implicated in a single livestock death. Nor have any other wolves. Fingers crossed. And here’s hoping that ranchers are being proactive in protecting their property.

Despite a steady increase in the human population and the accompanying urban sprawl, wolves are returning to places where they haven’t lived for centuries, contributing to a renewal of a natural and balanced environment. Perhaps this time, with an attitude of tolerance and understanding that should prevail with all the available science, they will be allowed to stay.

Wenaha wolves, ODFW
Wenaha wolves, ODFW

Among Wolves-Inspiration From Gordon Haber


Book Review: Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman

Among Wolves begins with tragic news of Gordon Haber’s death. Haber, the legendary biologist who spent over four decades in Alaska, died the way he lived, studying wolves in the wilderness of Denali National Park. It was October of 2009; Haber was in a research plane, as he often was, looking for wolves, when the […]
Gordon Haber, photo from
Gordon Haber, photo from
To read the rest of the review go to the website of EcoLit Books, a website devoted to literature based on environmental and animal rights themes. EcoLit Books is affiliated with Ashland Creek Press, in Ashland, Oregon. Check out their books, I’m sure there will be plenty there that interest you.


Gray Wolf Stays ‘Endangered’ Despite Conservationists’ Request

Beckie Elgin, Freelance Writer:

This article from Nature World News details the recent and somewhat confusing ruling by the USFWS on the listing status of wolves. Thanks, Wolves of Douglas County for posting this!

Originally posted on Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin:

By Brian Stallard Jul 04, 2015 03:54 PM EDT From Nature World News source

Photo : USFWSmidwest / NPS) The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently ruled that the North American gray wolf will remain classified as an endangered species despite its speedy recovery across the continent. Strangely enough, many conservationists looking to compromise with angry farmers and state officials are saying that this is not the good news they were hoping to hear.

To be quite honest, when this reporter first came across a petition submitted last January by The Humane Society of the United States (THS) and 22 other animal conservation groups, he was a little confused. The petition calls for Congress and the FWS to strip the grey wolf (Canis lupis) of its status as an endangered species – a status that grants its special protections under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Instead, the…

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Speak for Wolves 2015!

logo-sfw-web-new1I’m happy to have the opportunity to share this information on the upcoming Speak for Wolves event. Thanks to Brett Haverstick, founder and organizer, for creating the event and for the following write up. Speak for Wolves was greatly successful last year and promises to be in the years to come. Imagine–a gathering complete with live music, educational talks about subjects you feel passionate about, a film about OR 7, and all the time being surrounded by fellow wolf advocates in the magical land of Yellowstone. It doesn’t get much better than that!
This year marks the 2nd Annual Speak for Wolves near Yellowstone National Park. On August 7-9, 2015 people will gather in the Union Pacific Dining Lodge in West Yellowstone, Montana to hear about the need to reform wildlife management in America. The 3-day family-friendly event will feature speakers, panelists, live music, children’s activities and wildlife documentaries. The Friday night screening of OR7-The Journey cost $10 and the rest of the event is free.
Neil Haverstick
Neil Haverstick

Filmmaker Clemens Schenk will be in attendance on Friday August 7 for the screening of the award-winning documentary, OR7-The Journey: The Epic Journey of a lone wolf from Oregon To California. Amaroq Weiss with the Center for Biological Diversity will be accompanying Clemens to answer questions at the end of the film. Doors open at 6pm with music by Neil Haverstick. Film begins at 7:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased on-line at

The Saturday August 8 afternoon program will run from 12:00 – 4:00 pm. Kim Wheeler of the Red Wolf Coalition will be delivering a program about the plight of the red wolf and the need to continue the US Fish & Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery program. Wolf activist Oliver Starr will be delivering a program about the decline of gray wolves in Denali National Park and the need to re-establish a park boundary buffer zone to better protect wolves form hunting and trapping. Brian Ertz of Wildlands Defense will speak about the need to reform the controversial McKittrick Policy and equip the Department of Justice with tools to prosecute killers of threatened/endangered species. Live music by Neil Haverstick and Matt Stone. Children’s activities offered by Marilyn McGee and Gail McDiarmid of the children’s book, Running for Home.
The Saturday evening program will feature an exciting panel discussion led by Camilla Fox of Project Coyote.

Camilla Fox
Camilla Fox

Joining her will be Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity, Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center and author George Wuerthner. The group will discuss wildlife killing contests targeting wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and other species for prizes and inducements and efforts to ban them on public and private lands in the U.S. Doors open at 6:00 pm with music by Matt Stone. Panel discussion begins at 7:00 pm.

goodshieldOn Sunday August 9 Mary Lee Sanders will wake us up at 10:00 am with an interpretive dance of the wild wolf. Music and song by Goodshield Aguilar will follow. Mike Mease and other members of the Buffalo Field Campaign will end the program by giving a presentation about the hazing and senseless killing of bison in and outside of Yellowstone National Park in order to appease the livestock industry. The group will offer a vision for a new management plan of America’s last and only genetically pure wild bison herd and speak about the efforts to list buffalo under the Endangered Species Act.
Speak for Wolves is an opportunity for the American people to unite and demand wildlife management reform and take steps to restore our national heritage. The five principles to management reform can be found at
We hope you and your family can join us on August 7-9, 2015 in the historic Union Pacific Dining Lodge of West Yellowstone, Montana!
Brett Haverstick
Send questions to
George Nickas of Wilderness Watch
George Nickas of Wilderness Watch

Oregon, a Great Place To Be a Wolf


OR 12 Wenaha pack male. ODFW photo
OR 12, Wenaha pack male. ODFW photo

Last Friday, wolves in Oregon were granted at least five more months before the decision may be made to remove them from the state Endangered Species List. During this time period, information will be gathered on the possibility of delisting them in certain areas, rather than state wide, or to leave them all on the list. Most likely, wolves in the eastern part of the state would lose protection while those in western Oregon would maintain it. There are 77 known wolves in the state and four breeding pairs, most residing  in northeast Oregon.

Not only does this reprieve give wolf advocates more time to rally against delisting but it will also likely come after the scheduled five-year review to the Oregon Wolf Plan. This is important because without state protection for wolves, the plan would likely be weakened, allowing an increase in lethal action against wolves as well as a decrease in the use of nonlethal methods to prevent problems.

The April 24th meeting of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission was held in Bend, Oregon. Staff from ODFW presented their Biological Status Review of Wolves in Oregon to the commission, as well as to an audience both for and against the delisting. I’m told that wolf advocates outnumbered opponents 33 to 5. The commission listened to nearly four hours of testimony, most of it from those who believe wolves should retain protection under the state’s ESA.

Several folks we know of spoke up, including Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild who is quoted as saying, ““The idea that 77 animals of any kind represents recovery doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

Amaroq Weiss, West Coast representative for the Center for Biological Diversity, said there is “simply no science anywhere on earth” that would support delisting such a small population.”

Wally Sykes, member of Wallowa County’s wolf compensation panel, stated 77 wolves is far too few to provide genetic diversity.

And Suzanne Stone, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, is reported as saying that ODFW’s field staff has earned the public’s trust, but that delisting is not warranted.

OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack, after being radio-collared on May 20, 2014. Photo courtesy of ODFW
OR25, a yearling male in the Imnaha Pack. ODFW photo.

Other wolf news is that OR 25, a black male from the Imnaha pack has recently dispersed from his homeland in northeast Oregon to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, north of Mount Jefferson. Russ Morgan, ODFW’s wolf coordinator, reports that the wolf was collared last year and is now a two year old, a common time for dispersal.

Map from The Bulletin
Map from The Bulletin

News was released that there are three (not two as previously reported) wolves in the Keno unit in southwest Oregon. This group is within howling distance of Journey’s family, known as the Rogue Pack. This ups the number of wolves in this part of the state to at least seven, not counting pups that we hope were born this month. I’m blessed to live a few miles from this “area of known wolf activity” and travel there frequently to be in their presence.

Last month, a proposal was made to allow Oregonians the option of purchasing a specialty license plate featuring a wolf, specifically the much celebrated OR 7. Funds from sale of the plate would provide valuable monies for non-game projects within the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

We wouldn’t be wise to put our guard down yet, but it seems a fine time to take a deep breath and breath in the fresh, spring air of a state that has become a leader in the preservation of all of its natural resources, including wolves, a species that creates much more dissension than they earn. With this proactive approach to allowing the wild places to be truly wild, Oregon is a great place for wolves, and for humans.

OR 7, May 3, 2014. ODFW photo
OR 7, May 3, 2014. ODFW photo





Wisconsin Wolves–Safe For Now

wolves-58998__180Last December I spent a few days in western Wisconsin with a group of avid wolf supporters including Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County and members of Rod Coronodo’s Wolf Patrol. We were there during the wolf hunting season, specifically the time when hounds could be used to track down and kill wolves. We drove the back roads along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border looking for hound hunting activity. By that time, the snow had melted and there weren’t many hunters out, but it was a powerful experience being in the presence of people whose dedication to wolves takes them out of their comfort zones and into the field.

Since wolves in the Great Lakes regained protection under the Endangered Species Act in December of last year we’ve all been breathing sighs of relief. But good news in the wolf world often is short lived so many folks in Wisconsin and elsewhere are still battling to keep them safe.

A story on a Wisconsin news station released yesterday reported that the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has completed its Wolf Protection Plan. According to this plan the Red Cliff Reservation will be considered a wolf sanctuary and if hunting is legalized again, it would not be allowed on their land. There is to be a six mile buffer zone around the reservation to protect wolves as they leave and enter the area. Red Cliff Reservation is on the tip of the Bayfield Peninsula in far northern Wisconsin and it encompasses approximately 14,000 heavily forested acres. Sounds like prime habitat for wolves, or Ma’iinganag as they are known to the Red Cliff Tribe. I suggest you take a look at the plan, it’s full of interesting information on wolves and their importance to the Chippewa people.

wolf packAnother group, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf has recently released a full length documentary, aptly named Political Predator, about the wolf hunting situation in their state. This film is an educational and insightful look at the background of how wolf hunting has been managed (or not), the powers behind the harvest, and the opinions of those who do not see the need or value of the hunt. Enjoy the movie and use the information to further educate yourself about wolves in Wisconsin. The more we know, the more powerful will be our voice.