More Trouble for Wolves in Oregon 

Can non-native wolves receive protections reserved for native species in Oregon

Later this year the Oregon Court of Appeals will consider whether it was lawful for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to remove the gray wolf from the state’s endangered species list in late 2015. Disagreeing with the wolf’s delisting, three environmentalist groups challenged it last year.

Pacific Legal Foundation is representing the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation as intervenors defending the delisting, and yesterday filed brief responding to the environmentalist groups’ challenge to the delisting.

Their brief focuses on two primary arguments:

Oregon was legally compelled to delist the wolf because the only wolves present in the state are members of a non-native wolf subspecies, but the Oregon Endangered Species Act (ESA) only protects species native to Oregon; and when analyzing the status of species under the Oregon ESA, the state must consider a species’ current range, not its historical range.

Their case:

“First, the wolves native to Oregon are members of the Great Plains wolf (canis lupus nubilus) subspecies of gray wolf, but they ceased to exist in Oregon in the late 1940s. In the mid 1990s, members of the Canadian timber wolf (canis lupus occidentalis) subspecies were introduced into Idaho and Montana, and in subsequent years the offspring of those introduced wolves spread and multiplied, eventually establishing themselves in Oregon and leading to the current controversy.

The difference between wolf subspecies is not merely a paper distinction. The Canadian timber wolves tend to be larger than the Great Plains wolves, and as a result, have a greater impact on prey species and cattle. Furthermore, Oregon already recognizes differences between animal subspecies under its ESA, and the federal government even manages wolves differently depending on the subspecies. So, it cannot be overlooked that Oregon’s Endangered Species Act expressly limits the law’s protections to species that are native to the state.” 

Therefore, because the Canadian timber wolves are not native to Oregon, they do not qualify for protection under the state ESA.”

“It is also important to note that removing state ESA protections for non-native wolves does not leave them vulnerable to extirpation. Wolves remain protected under the federal ESA in western Oregon, but as recognized by the state and federal governments, wolves have thrived in eastern Oregon, so it is appropriate to allow for their management in accordance with the state wolf management plan.

Second, regardless of whether the wolves in Oregon qualify for state ESA protection, the environmentalists question Oregon’s analysis of the wolves’ success in establishing an Oregon population. One way the environmentalists question the state’s analysis is by focusing on the fact that wolves do not currently occupy most of their historical range in the state. But due to modern development in the decades since wolves disappeared from Oregon, it makes no sense to focus on historical range to determine whether wolves are at risk of extinction in the state now. Instead, the state properly considered whether wolves could continue to thrive in their current range, and concluded that they can.”

As a result, PLF asserts that the Court of Appeals should uphold the state’s delisting of the gray wolf from the Oregon ESA, and that such a conclusion is in line with the ESA’s text, the legislature’s intent, and “common sense”.

For more information, read the entire brief


Seems the war against the wolf never will end.


Kenai Peninsula Wolves 

The Board of Game plans to debate a proposal at its Bethel meeting this week that would reauthorize a program allowing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to eliminate all the wolves on a part of the lower Kenai Peninsula.

The area in question, the Predation Control Area of Unit 15C, consists of all lands within the unit north of Kachemak Bay up to Tustumena Lake, including the Fox River Flats and a number of federal, state and private lands. If the Board of Game votes to approve the proposal (Proposal 155) at its upcoming meeting scheduled for Jan. 4–7 in Bethel, the department could allow the public to hunt and trap wolves, both from the ground and from the air, and would be allowed to conduct its own aerial hunts.

By eliminating wolves, the department aims to raise the moose harvest in the area. “Annual harvests of moose in the area have been consistently lower than the target of 200–350 animals and the population is lower than the target,” according to the proposal. Because the Predation Control Area does not cover the entirety of Unit 15C, the department is recommending eliminating all the wolves from the area because “sufficient population sources can be found within adjacent areas once control efforts cease.”

The deadline for receiving comments was December 22nd, 2016 for this regional meeting. However, submission of written comments after the deadlines will be accepted but are limited to ten single-sided or five double-sided pages in length from any one individual or group and will be provided to the board members at the beginning of the meeting and must be faxed to 907-465-6094 (or submit them in person) by January 7th.

Wolf Conservation Center offers a petition which I ask that you please sign immediately, here.

Had we been on time you would have been able comment on the proposed regulation by submitting written comments to the Alaska Board of Game, Boards Support Section at: P.O. Box 115526, Juneau, AK 99811-5526. Online at: ADF&G Game Board , by email to  (PDF format only), as well as by fax to (907) 465-6094

Again, at this point your comment will only be accepted by fax which must be sent before January 7th, 2017.

The Interior Department stood strongly against this sort of Intensive Predator Management on Kenai notifying ADF&G  (file) that Refuge Lands must be excluded or the Service would make use of its own regulatory authorities to ensure adherence with legal mandates, regulations and policies.

My apologies for the inexcusably late notice. Please take action today.

​Feature image, with permission, by  Chris Montano Jr.

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