Well, it’s been a busy few weeks here at HCPC world headquarters, due in no small part to all the wolf activity in NE Oregon lately. Here’s the latest on our local wolves, starting first with the good news:
- There is a pack of 10 in the Imnaha area, and the alpha female of the pack has presumably had pups again this spring. We have no visual confirmation of the pups yet.
- There is another pack of 4 in the Wenaha area, although they are very elusive. It seems likely they’ve had pups this year, but there is no proof of this … yet.
- It is quite likely other wolves have established around Oregon, as there are more and more reliable reports from around the state, especially in the Cascades and N Fk John Day area.
Now the bad news … the Imnaha pack has been very active on private ranch-land within Wallowa County, and has killed six calves and cows. This activity is getting hyped in the local media, but is getting very little attention elsewhere. What’s worse is that the local media is treating each and every unsubstantiated claim of wolf depredation as fact. We believe that only Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) has the authority and training to determine whether a depredation has occurred.
As a result of the depredations, ODFW has issued a kill permit to Wildlife Service to kill 2 wolves of the Imnaha pack—a very broad permit that covers a huge area: over 40 square miles! ODFW has also given 7 ranchers permits to shoot wolves caught in the act of attacking their livestock—these are very limited permits, and although they concern us they re not are the key focus right now.
So, what are we doing about it? We have informed ODFW that we expect them to adhere strictly to the requirements of the Oregon Plan. Read our letter to ODFW here. We feel the issuance of the permits was premature as there are still ranches in the area wolves are frequenting that have not cleaned up carcass piles and other attractants. Some have, but some haven’t. Until all ranches in the area have removed attractants, it is too early to say that non-lethal control measures were ineffective. And before the permits are issued, ODFW has a responsibility to ensure that non-lethal control measures are ineffective.
Also, just today we submitted a letter to Governor Kulongoski asking him to pardon the two Imnaha pack wolves sentenced to death by ODFW.
The larger context is that the Oregon Wolf Plan is under its 5-year review process. Public comments are due to ODFW by June 30th. HCPC will be sending out e-alerts with talking points, so join our e-alert list to receive these. Or go ahead and send an email to ODFW asking them to fully protect Oregon’s fledgling wolf population.