23 OCTOBER 2015
Posted by: Melanie Gade
This month, news surfaced that a near Prairie City, Oregon by a coyote hunter. Illegal killing of wolves by coyote hunters, intentional or otherwise, remains a primary threat for wolves, and this is especially true where wolves are reclaiming new habitat, like they are in Oregon. As wolves continue to recover, one of the best ways we can help is by encouraging state wildlife agencies to educate hunters and local communities about the potential presence of wolves, their status as a protected species, and how to tell the difference between wolves and coyotes. An investigation on this incident is pending; because wolves are protected by the state Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to shoot them, except in the defense of human life.
But while this is clearly a devastating loss, we also received some good news: another of Oregon’s wolves has in northern Klamath County. This dispersing male is one of several moving west in Oregon where there is vast suitable habitat for this species. Although this is a wonderful sign of wolf recovery in Oregon, we could see a proposal to lift wolf protections as early as next month when the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission reconvenes to evaluate what level of protection is warranted as wolves continue to recover in Oregon. If the commission makes any changes at all, we have urged them to consider only downlisting the species from endangered to threatened. This would enable wolves to continue to receive the vital state protections they need while acknowledging that wolf numbers in eastern Oregon have improved.