For Immediate Release, May 3, 2011
Lawsuit Filed to Stop Unlawful Killing of Endangered Wolves in Oregon
“Oregon is big enough for people and wolves,” said Greg Dyson with the La Grande-based Hells Canyon Preservation Council. “The Fish and Wildlife Service is acting too hastily in moving to kill these wolves before exhausting other management options. We were left with no choice but to protect wolves in court.”
Wolves have only begun to recover in Oregon, with fewer than 25 wolves in two packs. Despite their small numbers, Oregon wolves will be removed from federal Endangered Species Act protection very soon under a congressional rider attached to the budget bill funding the government for the remainder of 2011.
“Oregon’s struggling wolf population cannot sustain these killings,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The killing of these two wolves highlights why Congress should not meddle in complex scientific decisions over the management of our nation’s endangered species. Oregon wolves are nowhere near recovered and continue to need protection.”
The kill order stems from a wolf depredation of a calf last weekend, another in February, and six cattle depredations in May and June 2010 attributed to the Imnaha Pack. Nonlethal measures to keep wolves away from livestock — including fencing, a range rider, hazing and cleanup of livestock carcasses — are being used and appear to have some success. It is also notable that ranchers are compensated for livestock losses to wolves, which is not the case with the far more common occurrence of other predators taking livestock. In 2005, for example, domestic dogs killed 700 sheep and cows in Oregon, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
“There is no basis for concluding that randomly killing two wolves from the pack will have any effect on the likelihood of further livestock depredations,” said Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands. “Over 60 years ago, we completed a sad chapter in our history by killing the last wolf in Oregon. Today we’re fighting in court to ensure that we do not repeat that history.”
To further challenge wolves in Oregon, a series of bills have been introduced into the legislature that would weaken protections for the animals and make it easier to kill them. Conservation groups have recently testified in opposition to these bills and are working to support a bill that would fairly compensate ranchers for lost livestock attributed to wolves. The bill would also set up a proactive fund to make nonlethal tools available to ranchers to head off wolf-livestock conflict.