BEND, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's decision to remove the gray wolf from the state's endangered species list adds new fuel to the debate over their reintroduction years ago.

"One of the big concerns a lot of folks in the conservation community have is the signal this sends to poachers," Steve Pedery with the conservation group Oregon Wild told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday."That it's OK to go out and kill these animals, when we only have 81 in the state."

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 Monday to remove the gray wolf from the state's endangered species list, though it remains on the federal list.

"What our biological review found is that wolves are represented over a large geographic area in Oregon," said ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy. "(It also found) they are connected to other populations, and that population is projected to increase."

Wolves are still protected against poachers in the state. Groups in opposition fear the decision to remove the wolves from the state's list could have negative results.

"In the long term, that's going to make it easier for wolves to be killed, and we think that's really unfortunate," Erik Fernandez with Oregon Wild's Bend office said.

The commission planned on filing the rule with the secretary of state on Tuesday.