Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wolf debate continues...

Guest op-ed writer Jim Akenson (It’s time to remove Oregon’s wolves from endangered list, Nov. 4) got it right that we should follow the state’s wolf management plan, but that doesn’t mean removing critical state protections for wolves.

Akenson fails to point out that the state endangered species act specifically requires the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to have any reports from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that recommend delisting of a species be reviewed by an outside panel of scientist experts.

The commissioners have not met that obligation. When they do, the science will leave no doubt that Oregon’s estimated population of 82 wolves is far from ready to delist. That population represents only 5 percent of the number the state can support and occupies only 12 percent of Oregon’s suitable wolf habitat, according to peer-reviewed research.

For no other species would a state accept these paltry numbers as demonstrating recovery.

In suggesting Oregon “promised” to delist wolves (once the population reached four breeding pairs for three consecutive years), Akenson, and others, have misrepresented the facts: What the law actually says is that when the population reaches that threshold, the state must evaluate its status — a process that automatically triggers a scientific peer-review of any state recommendation.

Akenson parrots the often-repeated myth that allowing more wolf-killing increases social tolerance for wolves. In fact, this myth has been debunked in several published, peer-reviewed research papers demonstrating that where protections for wolves have been reduced, tolerance for wolves has decreased.

Dropping state protections now would be without scientific basis and in violation of state law.
Especially now that the Obama administration has proposed dropping federal protections for most wolves in the Lower 48 — including those in Oregon — Oregon’s few dozen wolves urgently need continued state protection.

Amaroq Weiss
Petaluma, Calif.