Saturday, April 25, 2015

OR #Wolf Protections at Risk of Removal

By Kelly House | The Oregonian/OregonLive
on April 24, 2015











The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider removing the gray wolf from Oregon's endangered species list.

During a meeting Friday in Bend, the state commission directed Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to initiate the delisting process. That doesn't necessarily mean the wolf is leaving the list. What it does mean: Staff will study the possibility of delisting wolves, then return to the board for a vote in several months.

Commissioners asked fish and wildlife staff to develop proposals for two scenarios. Under one scenario, wolves would leave the endangered species list statewide. Under the other, only Eastern Oregon wolves would be delisted.

Friday's decision to consider removing state-level protections for Oregon's wolves was triggered by the animal's continued recovery in Oregon. Under the Oregon Wolf Plan, the state fish and wildlife commission can consider delisting wolves after four breeding pairs are found in the state for three straight years.

That bar was met January, when the department announced more than four breeding pairs had made it through 2014. There are 77 known wolves in the state.

While state officials grapple with state-level protections for the apex predator, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, has introduced a bill to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Washington, Oregon and Utah. The bill would also prevent states from providing protections to wolves that are stronger than those found in the federal Endangered Species Act, the Associated Press reports. 
 
In Oregon, only wolves west of west of highways 78, 95 and 395 receive federal protections.

Since gray wolves crossed the border from Idaho into Oregon, their range has been limited mostly to the state's northeastern quadrant. But in recent months, OR-7 and his pack have established themselves in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, while another wolf has been roaming south of Klamath Falls. The week, ODFW confirmed the presence of a lone wolf near Adrian, a town in Malheur County which until now had not seen wolf activity.

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