SALEM, Ore. – State legislators are considering bills that will strengthen the state’s Wolf Plan in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit by conservationists who are opposed to the removal of the gray wolf on the state’s endangered species list.
Both Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) and Rep. Greg Barreto (R-Cove) point out, as has the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, that the wolves will be protected under the wolf plan. Still, animal rights activists have threatened to sue, contending that ODFW acted prematurely.
While ODFW believes there are enough wolves in Oregon to maintain the species Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity disagrees with their contention.
“It’s simply too soon to remove protections for Oregon’s wolves,” he said. “It’s not rocket science that roughly 80 wolves in 12 percent of suitable habitat in Oregon does not equal a recovered population. The gray wolf remains endangered and protections should have never been removed.”
Under the Oregon Wolf Plan, it is not legal to kill wolves with the exception of attack. Todd Nash, wolf committee chairman with the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association says a lawsuit will tie things up for years and cost the state thousands of dollars. When the Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4 to 2 to delist the wolf, Nash said it doesn’t really have an immediate impact.
A delisting, unfortunately, does not change the Oregon Wolf Plan,” he said. “We are still bound by the same rules that we were before.”
The OCA says that what does change is the ability to produce litigation against the plan itself, giving producers more tools when there is livestock depredation by wolves.