The Perils of Delisting

walla-walla-2014Photo: Walla Walla pack wolf. ODFW 2/2014

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released news that a male wolf from the Shamrock pack in Northeastern Oregon had been inadvertently killed by Wildlife Services. Here is the ODFW release:

 

March 2, 2017

Wolf dies in unintentional take in northeast Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife

SALEM, Ore.—Wolf OR48, a Shamrock Pack adult male, died on Feb. 26 on private land in northeast Oregon after an unintentional take by the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.

The wolf died after encountering an M-44 device, a spring-activated device containing cyanide powder. The device was in place as part of Wildlife Services operations to control coyotes and prevent coyote-livestock conflict on private land in northeast Oregon.

“The death of this wolf shows the risk involved when wolves are in areas where Wildlife Services conducts these types of operations,” said Doug Cottam, ODFW Wildlife Division administrator. “This is a situation we take seriously and we’ll be working with Wildlife Services with the goal of preventing it from happening again.”

ODFW and Wildlife Services are evaluating the incident and discussing how to prevent unintentional capture or take of wolves while addressing livestock damage problems.

“Wildlife Services’ specialists care about wildlife and work hard to prevent the unintentional take of animals when addressing human-wildlife conflicts,” said Dave Williams, state director for USDA Wildlife Services in Oregon. “We have begun an internal review of this incident to see if any changes to our procedures are necessary.”

Wolf OR48 was collared on Feb. 10 of this year in Wallowa County and was part of the Shamrock Wolf Pack. At the time of collaring, he weighed over 100 pounds and was estimated to be just under two years old. Wolf OR48 was not the breeding male of the pack.

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When wolves were protected in our state, the use of M-44 was not allowed. Now that the state has removed ESA protections, wolves in the northeastern part of the state are clearly at risk for succumbing to harmful actions by Wildlife Services. According to an article in the Capital Press, “The agency’s (Wildlife Services) website describes the M-44 as an “effective and environmentally sound wildlife damage management tool.” “

This “wildlife damage management tool” was set with the intention of killing coyotes on private lands at the edge of the Shamrock pack’s territory. With all the great work being done by Project Coyote and others to educate people on how indiscriminate killing of coyotes does not solve problems with livestock, one would think Wildlife Services would know better.

The loss of this wolf also stands for proof that state and Federal protections for wolves are essential. Currently, wolves in Wisconsin, Wyoming, Michigan and Minnesota are facing removal from Federal protections, which would then allow the individual states to manage their wolf populations. So far, this has not bode well for wolves. Too many states have quickly enacted hunting and trapping seasons, long before science-based studies have shown wolf populations are ready for this.

ODFW staff will discuss their 2016 Annual Wolf Report with their Commission on April 21, 2017 in Klamath Falls. Public testimony will be allowed. Although wolves have already been removed from state protections here, this meeting is a chance to speak up regarding potential chances in the plan that reduce protections currently provided by the wolf plan.

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