Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oregon Kills Imnaha Pack Wolf, Gunning for a Second

Kills Threaten Recovery of Wolves in Oregon

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced yesterday that it trapped and killed a wolf in eastern Oregon. The wolf was a member of the Imnaha Pack, one of only two confirmed packs in Oregon’s fledgling wolf population that, at most, consists of 25 wolves. State officials are proposing to kill another member of the pack after recent wolf-attributed livestock kills in Wallowa County.

“Oregon’s wolf population is too small to withstand killing of any of its members,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We support nonlethal measures to discourage livestock depredation and believe more can be done to reduce conflicts with livestock.”

Wolf killing is allowed under the state’s wolf management plan when nonlethal measures to discourage wolves from depredating livestock have failed and there is a chronic problem with depredation. Cascadia Wildlands and Hells Canyon Preservation Council recently requested information from the wildlife department that supports its determination that such conditions have been met, but, as of today, had not yet received it.

"We were told that this information would take several office days to gather. If ODFW is going to kill endangered wolves in response to livestock depredations, then we expect the agency to have already compiled what amounts to its legal justification for this action. It should be at its fingertips for its own internal review and also readily available to the public," said Jennifer Schwartz, Staff Attorney for Hells Canyon Preservation Council.

"We are not yet convinced that all necessary nonlethal deterrents to reduce recent wolf-livestock conflict have been utilized,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Oregon's wolf population is just beginning to recover after a ruthless extermination campaign and therefor needs all the help it can get."

Wildlife officials planned to kill two Imnaha pack wolves in June 2010, but the killing was forestalled by a lawsuit from Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild. It was eventually stopped altogether when protection for wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act was restored by a separate lawsuit. Those protections were removed in April by federal legislation attached as a rider to the 2011 budget bill, marking the first time Endangered Species Act protections for a species were removed by Congress.

Billboard in Wallowa County, OR demonizing wolves.

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