Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Oregon wolves move closer to delisting
The threshold is met when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife verifies that the state hosts at least four breeding pairs of wolves in Eastern Oregon for three years.
In 2012, biologists documented six breeding pairs, and they found four pairs in 2013 spread across Baker, Union, Umatilla and Wallowa counties. In the Western region, only one breeding pair is known to exist.
The count for 2014 won’t be complete until January or even February of 2015, said Russ Morgan, who coordinates ODFW’s wolf program. However, early reports show more than four breeding pairs. “Oregon wolves are increasing, not just in abundance but in distribution as well,” Morgan said.
That’s bittersweet news for Nash and his fellow ranchers because more wolves mean more potential problems for their animals, but it also means they would be allowed to use lethal force in more situations.
He told a Senate interim committee on Environment and Natural Resources that although ranchers are compensated for animals killed by wolves, they lose tens of thousands more in extra time spent checking on herds and lower cattle weights due to stress.
Delisting an animal is a process that’s triggered when certain thresholds are met for the species.
Rob Klavins from Oregon Wild told the committee it’s possible Oregon’s wolves will meet the threshold of breeding pairs but fail to fulfill the act’s five criteria for delisting.
He noted that Parvo, a potentially life threatening virus that affects dogs, has been found in Oregon’s wolf packs and killing members of Oregon’s burgeoning wolf population could harm recovery efforts. “We may end up disagreeing on which way that should go,” Klavins said.