Tomorrow, May 19, is the day for advocates to speak up about the proposed changes in the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The commissioners are meeting in Portland at the Embassy Suites-Portland Airport. The meeting begins at 8 am and public testimony is allowed. Expect it to be a long day!
Oregon Wild is planning a carpool from Eugene. Contact them if you would like more information on this. They have been doing a great job in offering opportunities for people to prepare for the public meetings.
However, not all of us can make it to Portland to speak up in person so I wanted to make sure everyone knows how to contact the commissioners with written testimony. The following link takes you to the ODFW Commissioners Meeting Schedule and Minutes. Once there, go to the “Email Questions and Comments Bullet” on the left and you’ll be taken to the correct email address to send your comments. Put “Wolf Plan 5 year Review Comments” in the subject line.
One can send letters the old-fashioned way as well. This is the address on the Commissioner’s website: 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE Salem, OR 97302.
You can even watch the meeting in progress by clicking on “View Commission meetings on Periscope” on the website. The Klamath Falls meeting held last month is currently available.
One more thing I would suggest–click on “Meeting Materials” and review the proposed changes and other details. I for one appreciate the opportunity to take my time in reading over these documents and becoming familiar with them. What is perhaps even more interesting than this is the “Additional Public Correspondence…” These are the actual letters and emails ODFW has recently received in response to the proposals. There are some familiar names here (Hurrah Joanie and Cheryl!) from folks concerned about our wolf population. There is a long letter from Norman Bishop, who spent years on Yellowstone wolf interpretation and education, detailing the many issues he has with the possible changes to the wolf plan. Norm writes from Montana which tells me it is acceptable to contribute without residing in Oregon. There is a note in the document that states 619 people sent in a letter drafted by Defenders of Wildlife. Wow! There is a postcard from a man in Talent, Oregon stating he is “…in favor of a maximum wolf population throughout the state.” There are some terrific letters here, all worth reading and gleaning ideas from for your own input. Of course, there is also correspondence supporting some of the changes we are most concerned about, including allowing the public to remove “problem wolves.”
So send in your thoughts. I have not yet heard what the deadline is. The sooner the better! Taking points by Amaroq Weiss of Center for Biological Diversity are below.
KEY TALKING POINTS AND ISSUES TO RAISE IN YOUR TESTIMONY OR COMMENT LETTER
Pick just one or a few of these issues if testifying, because you will be allowed only three minutes or less to speak. Whether testifying or sending a comment letter, as much as possible, please state them in your own words. If you simply copy verbatim the talking points below, your comments will not have nearly as much impact.
1. The revised plan should preserve those parts of the plan that have worked.
Parts of the wolf plan have worked well for all affected parties, and they must not be lost in the revision process. Those provisions should instead be carried forward. Primary among these are the requirements for steps that must be taken before wolves can be killed for chronic livestock depredations.
Provisions in Phase I of the plan give clarity, transparency, accountability and enforceability for steps that must be taken by state wildlife agency staff and livestock owners before the killing of wolves for conflicts with livestock can be considered. This includes:
- qualifying depredations of four events in six months’ time;
- site-appropriate, department-approved sanitation and conflict-prevention measures put in placebefore conflicts occur; and
- public-notification requirements.These measures work: Despite a growing wolf population, under Phase I management strategies, conflicts with livestock stayed level or decreased, and no wolves were killed. However in just the one year since delisting, one wolf pack was ordered killed, the wolf population has stagnated and conflicts with livestock have increased. Right now Phase II and Phase III requirements are too lax and are a recipe for increased conflict, not less. All of the Phase I provisions should be brought forward into Phase II and Phase III management of wolves.
2. All feasible nonlethal methods to prevent or halt livestock-wolf conflicts should be required and implemented before wolves can be killed for chronic depredations, and only confirmed wolf- caused losses should count as qualifying depredations that could result in a wolf kill order.
Published, peer-reviewed scientific research increasingly is demonstrating that killing wolves to protect livestock is ineffective over the long term, increases risk of conflicts and is highly cost inefficient.
- To make decisions, the state should be relying on the best available science rather than time- worn assumptions, anecdotes and studies that do not meet scientific standards.
- The state should halt all lethal management of wolves for livestock conflicts and rely on proven nonlethal conflict-deterrence measures.
- The state should stick to using only “confirmed” wolf-caused losses, not “probable” losses. Using “probables” is a significant departure from prior versions of the wolf plan and will result in increased killing of wolves.3. The state holds wolves as a public trust for all of the public and should not be killing the public’s wolves on public lands to benefit a private, for-profit industry.
- Taxpayers already subsidize the livestock industry with public grazing fees set up to 20 times lower than fees for grazing on privately owned lands.
- These public-lands grazing fees were purposefully set low by the federal government in acknowledgment there would be losses due to predators.
- Public-lands ranchers also receive compensation for wolf-caused losses.
- At the least, the thresholds for determining what constitutes chronic depredation that could lead toa wolf-kill order should be set at a substantially higher bar on public lands than on private lands.4. No hunting or trapping of wolves should be allowed in Oregon, except for live-trapping by state or federal biologists to radio-collar wolves.
Wolves in the eastern half of the state recently reached numbers that have shifted their management to Phase III strategies of the plan. Phase III allows for hunting and trapping of wolves by private citizensin instances of conflict with livestock or wild ungulate population declines.
- Most Oregonians don’t want to see wolves killed to begin with. But we especially don’t want to see wolves hunted or trapped by members of the public. A recent poll shows 72 percent of Oregonians are opposed to wolf hunting.
- Science tells us that killing wolves harms their social structure and pack stability and increases the risk of livestock conflicts. Nonlethal deterrence measures are more effective and less costly over the long haul.
- Though the wolf plan currently states that there will be no general-season hunting or trapping of wolves, pressure is already being placed by hunting groups on the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Commission to allow this and once the state goes down the slippery slope of allowing any hunting or trapping of wolves, the floodgates will be open to a future general season.
- Scientists the world over are alarmed by the collapse in numbers of apex predators and are urging a halt to their killing. Apex predators, such as wolves, play a significant role in healthy ecosystems and we should be doing everything in our power to conserve them, not look for new excuses to kill them.
- There should be no public hunting or trapping, of any kind, of wolves in Oregon. Ever.Questions? Contact Amaroq Weiss, West Coast Wolf Organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity firstname.lastname@example.org / (707)-779-9613