Friday, July 8, 2016

Oregon Appeals Court Reinstates Legal Challenge to Premature Wolf Delisting



Center for Biological DiversityFor Immediate Release, July 6, 2016

Contact:  Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (314) 482-3746, nick@cascwild.org 
Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613, aweiss@biologicaldiversity.org
Steve Pedery, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 ext. 212, sp@oregonwild.org
 


Oregon Appeals Court Reinstates Legal Challenge to Premature Wolf Delisting

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild can proceed with their legal challenge to the state’s decision to prematurely strip endangered species protections from Oregon’s small population of gray wolves. Fewer than 120 of the animals are known to exist in the state.

“In no way should management of Oregon’s small population of recovering wolves be dictated by the livestock industry and its anti-wolf allies in Salem,” says Nick Cady, legal director with Cascadia Wildlands. “This ruling is a hopeful first step to ensure politics do not trump science when it comes to managing our treasured wildlife.”

The ruling by the court late Tuesday reinstates a legal challenge filed in December by the conservation groups to last fall’s controversial 4-2 decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to strip state Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves. Following that decision lobbyists with the livestock industry worked with several legislators during the 2016 legislature to pass House Bill 4040, a bill blocking judicial review of wolf delisting. Subsequent public records releases documented that despite public denials, the staff of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was heavily involved in the legislation.

In April the conservation groups’ legal challenge was dismissed after the Oregon Department of Justice argued that the lawsuit was potentially moot due to H.B. 4040.  However, wolf advocates sought reconsideration by the court of this decision on the basis that H.B. 4040 was unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers doctrine, among other issues.

In yesterday’s ruling Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Erika Hadlock wrote that the issues presented by conservation advocates’ legal challenge “are complex matters of public importance” that deserve further consideration by the appellate court.

“Oregon’s wolves will now get their day in court to reveal the flawed process that stripped their protection,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Gov. Brown’s wildlife commission ignored the best science to illegally delist wolves, then her staff was actively involved in the passage of legislation to eliminate the public’s right to challenge that decision.”

The wildlife commission’s decision to delist wolves was based on an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife analysis of the state’s wolf population that numerous leading scientists characterized as severely flawed and illogical.

“Access to the courts to ensure that our government obeys its own laws is a cherished right of Oregonians,” said Steve Pedery, conservation director of Oregon Wild. “Using H.B. 4040, Gov. Brown, legislators and livestock industry lobbyists tried to revoke that right when it came to wolves, and now it appears to have backfired on them.”

The wolf advocates’ opening brief is due to the appellate court on Aug. 23.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Cascadia Wildlands educates, agitates, and inspires a movement to protect and restore Cascadia's wild ecosystems. We envision vast old-growth forestsrivers full of wild salmonwolves howling in the backcountry, and vibrant communities sustained by the unique landscapes of the Cascadia bioregion.
Oregon Wild was founded in 1974 and works to protect & restore Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife, and waters as an enduring legacy for future generations.