Friday, November 20, 2015

No plans for sport hunting Oregon’s wolves (yet)

Zach Urness, Statesman Journal

For the past six years in Idaho and Montana, gray wolves have been both predator and prey.
Beginning in 2009, both states opened a hunting and trapping season to the public that averages 277 wolves harvested in Idaho and 180 taken in Montana each full season.

There is no plan to follow suit in Oregon, however, despite removal of wolves from state Endangered Species Act protection earlier this month.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stressed that even as the wolf population grows and expands, Oregon’s Wolf Plan offers no option for sport hunting or trapping in the foreseeable future.
Oregon has a known population of 82 wolves, while Idaho has 770 and Montana has 554.

There have been many comments on social media sites expressing confusion about whether sport hunting wolves is allowed, or will be allowed, now that wolves are delisted in Oregon.

“There is no general season sport hunting envisioned in any phase of the Wolf Plan, period,” fish and wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said. “Allowing that would require a change to the (Wolf Plan) and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission didn’t indicate they want to make big changes.”

What delisting does allow is the possibility of a controlled take — hunting and killing wolves by ODFW staff — in situations where a pack chronically attacks livestock or causes a decline in game populations of deer and elk.

That could happen in northeast Oregon as early as January of 2017, when wolves reach Phase 3 under the Wolf Plan. Phase 3 is met after seven breeding pairs of wolves survive the winter for three consecutive years.

Currently, it is illegal to kill a wolf everywhere in Oregon. The maximum fine is a year in jail and a $6,250 fine. The only exception is northeast Oregon, where livestock operations can shoot a wolf caught in the act of wounding, biting, killing or chasing livestock.

Wolves in Western Oregon remain in Phase I of the Wolf Plan and protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for eight years. He is the author of the book “Hiking Southern Oregon” and can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Facebook at Zach’s Oregon Outdoors or @ZachsORoutdoors on Twitter.

Wolf hunting in Montana and Idaho

It is legal to hunt and trap wolves in Idaho and Montana. Here are the total number or wolves harvested, or killed, each season in those states. 

Idaho
2009 — 135
2010 — 46 (shortened season)
2011-2012 — 379
2012-2013 — 319
2013-2014 — 302
2014-2015 — 250
2015-2016 — 89 (as of Nov. 10)
Total: 1,520


Montana
2009 — 72
2010 — No harvest season
2011-2012 — 166
2012-2013 — 225
2013-2014 — 230
2014-2015 — 206
2015-2016 — 74 (as of Nov. 18)
Total: 973


 source