Federal Delisting: How Oregon Wolves Will be Affected

 

On November 16, 2018, members of the House passed HB 6784, the Manage Our Wolves Act. The bill won with bipartisan support and a vote of 196-180. If passed by the Senate, gray wolves in the lower 48 states will lose federal protection and each state will be in charge of managing their wolves.

In the Rocky Mountain states where wolves were previously removed from federal protection hunting and trapping have caused the death of thousands of wolves. The recent shooting of Yellowstone wolf 926, daughter of the legendary ’06, as she left the safety of the park is only one example of the repercussions of no having legal safeguard for wolves.

If the Manage Our Wolves bill becomes law wolves in the Great Lakes states and other areas, including Oregon, will face the same fate. Also, wolves dispersing into new territories, such as Colorado and Utah, will have no federal protection, making already risky efforts to recolonize previous territories even more challenging.

ODFW Map

In Oregon, wolves are still federally protected in the Western two-thirds of the state. We lost state protection for our wolves in 2015. But with passage of this bill all protections would be lost, including for OR-7’s Rogue pack in Southwestern Oregon.

We are way too early in the biological ball game for Oregon wolves to be in the hands of the state. Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild, in a series of recent emails, had this to say about the issue:

Wolves stand alongside bald eagles and gray whales as one of America’s greatest conservation success story, but they’ve still got a long way to go before we can declare ‘Mission Accomplished.’ That’s especially true here in Oregon where we only have two known packs in the areas where they would lose protections (and only one – OR-7’s Rogue Pack has successfully raised pups to adulthood). Stripping wolves of federal protection would leave management in the hands of ODFW. ODFW is still using an outdated wolf plan and have clearly lost sight of their conservation mission. Increasingly, we’ve seen the state unable to stand up to extractive political interests or say no to those who want to see wolves killed.”

Another concern with HS 6784 is that it would would disallow any judicial review, which means the delisting could not be challenged in court. This is a violation of our basic rights and sets an alarming precedence that could be used with other species in the future.

More from Rob Klavins, “By the numbers, recovery has taken hold here in Northeastern Oregon, but Oregon is a long way from having a recovered population. Wolves still occupy only a small portion of their available habitat and number in the dozens when scientists say the state could support a population of well over 1,000.

 

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OR-7, USFWS photo

I also communicated with Amaroq Weiss, West Coast Wolf Advocate with Center for Biological Diversity about the status of wolves in California. As you may recall, California protects the gray wolf under its own Endangered Species Act (CESA), therefore wolves would remain safe even if federal protections are lost. However, according to Amaroq state protection for wolves was legally challenged in January 2017 by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the CA Cattlemens Association and the CA Farm Bureau.  Center for Biological Diversity and other groups filed to defend against the lawsuit. This action was granted and oral arguments are set for January of next year.

Amaroq sounds hopeful that state protection will not be overturned in California, but she adds that, “...one never says never or always when it comes to lawsuits because ultimately it is up to the court to decide.” She also points out, “Wherever wolves live, wolf opponents will strive to not only halt recovery but to fight the progress that’s been made so far. That means that to protect what is so precious to us we must always be vigilant.

This is certainly time to be vigilant. We still have a chance of stopping this bill. Please take a moment to call, email, or send a letter to your state Senator. This link is an easy way to find their contact info: U.S. Senate-Find Your Senator. 

Some things to mention are the fact that the removal of any species from the Endangered Species List should be a science-based decision, not a political one. Wolves are still in the recovery phase, especially in the areas where they are federally protected.

 

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Journey: The Amazing Story of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf that Made History is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s and Inkwater Press.

Use the PayPal button below to order an author autographed copy of Journey: The Amazing Story of OR-7, the Wolf that Made History. Great gift for Christmas! buy-now-buttonPrice $20.95 and includes shipping

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6 thoughts on “Federal Delisting: How Oregon Wolves Will be Affected

  1. “…removal of any species from the Endangered Species List should be a science-based decision, not a political one.” I absolutely agree! It should also not be an emotional one. If wolves are recovered by the numbers then they should be delisted. It amazes me how people that claim to believe in science when it comes to global warming do not believe in in science (or only a Procrustean version of it) when it comes to wildlife management. When you start anthropomorphizing animals by naming individuals, that is not wildlife management but rather emotion. However, the people that read this would never agree. Well no one will read it since they fair and balanced editor will delete it. Freedom of speech doesn’t exist on the left unless you agree with them.

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    • Jim, I don’t always approve such comments, but yours was rational enough that I did.

      Perhaps wolves should be delisted if their numbers warrant that. However, it is the repercussions of delisting that are problematic. When some species earn removal from the ESA, for example the Golden lion tamarin or the Turquoise parrot, their populations are not immediately targeted for trophy hunting. Habitat loss is more of an issue for them. If the small percentage of humans who find sport in killing animals for trophies did not exist there would be much less of a controversy about delisting. Trophy hunting in my estimation needs to go the way of the musket. It should no longer be something a few people do to fulfill their lives. We simply do not have enough wildlife left. And one would hope our species would have evolved past this a long time ago.

      Also, it is not an emotional response to realize that animals lead intelligent and sentient lives. It is simply an observation. One that should lead us to understand that random killing of these animals is disruptive to their family groups and overall wellbeing. It is not only about the numbers. The old school of wildlife management needs to shift in the direction that accepts this. Management has always meant to manage in ways people gain from without respecting what is natural and healthy for the environment and its wildlife. Selfish.

      Named or not, wolves and other species need protection from the few that want to see them dead.

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  2. Very disturbing, especially the inability to challenge this law in court. I’m sharing this with the WOLF sanctuary people in Colorado.

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  3. I don’t understand why it is so important to both Demos and Republicans to delist wolves; I believe it is more about whose paying off those politicians, local officials and management to vote against protecting wolves, their habitat and families. What kind of a civilized country do we live in when it’s considered ok to trap/ slaughter an innocent animal and hang them as a trophy- does that person need it for their self-esteem, for power and money. This is not only a political issue, but an ethical one- Animals are part of our history, culture and having no respect for them is a sad statement about the ethics this country has taken on. Why can’t Management change their mind set about respecting what is natural and healthy for the environment instead of destroying it. Vote out those in Management who will not discuss rational and ethical solutions.

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    • Thanks much for your thoughtful comment, Paula. I agree, trophy hunting and fur trapping is a moral issue, and one that should not even be on the agenda in a civilized world. I was reading recently about Costa Rica’s ban on hunting. This was done not only to preserve their biodiverse wildlife population but also to boost eco-tourism in their country. If only more places, including the US, would be this forward thinking.

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